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The Swannanoa Valley Museum has undergone many changes since closing for renovations earlier this year. One of those changes has been bringing aboard a new Assistant Director.

Katherine Calhoun Cutshall joined the Swannanoa Valley Museum in late June, just as the museum began moving its offices and collections back into the renovated building.

Cutshall is a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina Asheville, and is working toward receiving her MA in Public History at Western Carolina University.

“We’re so excited to have Katherine on board," said museum director Anne Chesky Smith. "She brings with her an astounding knowledge of the local area and a passion for history. Besides coordinating our volunteers who staff the Museum on a daily basis, Katherine has been instrumental in setting up our new exhibits for our reopening.”

Cutshall began her career in museums while still studying at UNCA. From 2013-2016 she took on internships and employment with the Governor Zebulon B. Vance Birthplace state historic site in Weaverville and the North Carolina Civil War History Center in Fayetteville.

Cutshall is most passionate about studying the history and culture of Western North Carolina, particularly in the 19th century.

Her undergraduate research titled, “In the Grip of Slavery: The Development of a Slave Society Surrounding the Establishment of Stock Stands on the Buncombe Turnpike 1790-1855” charts how a slave-labor driven economy developed along the major trade road that cut through Buncombe, Madison and Henderson Counties.

In addition to African-American and economic history, she is also interested in Appalachian arts and culture.

Cutshall looks forward to the opportunity to learn more about this part of the region.

“Being here at the Swannanoa Valley Museum gives me the opportunity to further explore one part of Western North Carolina that has an immensely rich history," she said. "From the earliest Native American settlers to the development of the New South industrial economy; the Swannanoa Valley has seen it all.”

Katherine’s main duty at the museum is as the volunteer coordinator; a very important position to the Swannanoa Valley Museum whose main workforce comprises of volunteer docents.

This year, the Museum’s major temporary exhibition features the work of local photographer and woodworker, Edward L. DuPuy. Displayed in the Museum are never-before-seen images from DuPuy’s 1967 publication, Artisans of the Appalachians. Included are photographs of local artisans Edsel Martin, Hardy Davidson, and May Ritchie Deschamps along with samples of their work.

Cutshall is available during the museum’s regular operating hours Thursday-Saturday. Those who may be interested in serving the museum as a volunteer may contact her by phone or e-mail at (828)-669-9566 or volunteer@swannanoavalleymuseum.org.

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