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BLACK MOUNTAIN - The Swannanoa Valley Museum and History Center was looking for the right person to take over its leadership role. They found a perfect match in someone with a long history in historical museums.

LeAnne Johnson recently was named the museum's executive director.

Johnson spent most of her childhood in Ashe County before graduating from East Carolina University. She began her career in Colonial Williamsburg, where she spent three years before moving to the North Carolina Transportation Museum. Johnson was with the transportation museum for 16 years and most recently served as the collections manager.

As director of the Swannanoa Valley Museum, Johnson will oversee day-to-day operations while developing programming and soliciting grants for the museum.

Currently, the museum is working on renovating the second floor and providing access for handicap visitors to be able to reach the upper level of the museum.

Johnson said the mission of the museum is to provide community resources and tell the history of the Swannanoa Valley.

“That’s our basic mission, and that’s what my job entails,” Johnson said. “Just making sure we have resources for researchers if they need them and to also promote the history of this valley so we can keep in touch with our roots.”

In addition to permanent collections, the Swannanoa Valley Museum hosts at least one temporary exhibition a year. The museum is preparing for the opening of Joara exhibit, which will display artifacts found in a dig near the Native American settlement.

“It tells the story of Juan Pardo and his 250 soldiers that came and started a fort and encountered the Joara residents that were right near Morganton,” Johnson said.

Johnson said while she is still learning about the area, she looks forward to what is to come.

“I’m excited about being able to grow with this museum and become a part of this community and learn more about the Swannanoa Valley and its history,” Johnson said.

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