Rural Life Museum re-opens with big celebration at Mars Hill U.
It’s been seven years since the Rural Life Museum, a top history spot, closed down at Mars Hill College, now Mars Hill University, for renovation. On Sat., Sept. 28, it reopens—with performances, a major exhibit, and a reception, 2 to 5 p.m. The ribbon-cutting is at 3.
Mars Hill University is a pilgrimage site for people seeking archival materials on Southern Appalachian music and arts. The exhibit, “Interwoven: Coverlets, Ballads, and America’s Discovery of Madison County Folklife,” highlights an aspect of those subjects. It tells the story of the Allanstand Cottage Industries, developed by Presbyterian missionary Frances Louisa Goodrich.
Allanstand prompted a great revival of handcrafts in Madison County, which led to the creation of one of America’s oldest and most renowned craft associations, the Southern Highland Craft Guild. Some of the Allanstand Cottage Industries weavers and their families featured in the exhibition had made valuable contributions to the ballad collection of English folklorist Cecil Sharp when he had visited the region. “Interwoven” also explores a variety of processes used in the creation of woven pieces—especially coverlets—including carding, spinning, dying, and weaving.
Roger Howell & Friends play from 2-3 p.m., at which time the ribbon-cutting ceremony proceeds with music by the Mars Hill Chamber Singers. After that, Joe Penland will sing and speak about the ballad tradition in Madison County.
The Rural Life Museum reopens with funds provided by the North Carolina Department of Transportation; Madison County; the Janirve Foundation; the Marion Stedman Covington Foundation; and the Madison County Tourism and Development Authority (TDA). Presenting sponsor of the grand reopening celebration and exhibition is the Madison County TDA. Wells Fargo Bank is a Heritage Sponsor. The Southern Highland Craft Guild loaned items from its permanent collection for the exhibition.
“Now, with its expanded, professionally designed space,” the university states, “the museum is poised to present an array of high quality exhibitions about Southern Appalachian culture and history, serving students and adults from Madison County, Southern Appalachia, and beyond.”
The Rural Life Museum is open daily (except Mondays,) beginning September 29, 2013, from 1-5 p.m. and by appointment. It is located on Rt. 213, in Montague Hall on the MHU campus. Admission is free. For more information or for group tours, please call (828) 689-1400, or visit the museum website.