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Arts & Entertainment WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center to open new exhibit with reception, performance

A new exhibit, “Western Carolina University: The Progress of an Idea,” will open with a public reception and special performance Thursday, March 10, at WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center.

The exhibit traces how Robert Lee Madison’s “Cullowhee Idea” in 1893 became the seed that sprouted “normal schools” across North Carolina and resulted in WCU and its mission of service to the region, said Mountain Heritage Center curator Pamela Meister.

The reception, set for 5 to 7 p.m., will feature the premiere performance of “Madison,” a dramatic monologue created by award-winning author, dramatist and Sylva resident Gary Carden. The monologue will be performed by actor Steve Brady from 6 to 6:30 p.m. in the museum auditorium.

Robert Lee Madison, founder and first president of what became Western Carolina University, is shown circa 1890. Madison was 22 years old when he began teaching at Cullowhee Academy. (Courtesy of WCU Special Collections, Hunter LibraryA new exhibit, “Western Carolina University: The Progress of an Idea,” will open with a public reception and special performance Thursday, March 10, at WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center.

The exhibit traces how Robert Lee Madison’s “Cullowhee Idea” in 1893 became the seed that sprouted “normal schools” across North Carolina and resulted in WCU and its mission of service to the region, said Mountain Heritage Center curator Pamela Meister.

The reception, set for 5 to 7 p.m., will feature the premiere performance of “Madison,” a dramatic monologue created by award-winning author, dramatist and Sylva resident Gary Carden. The monologue will be performed by actor Steve Brady from 6 to 6:30 p.m. in the museum auditorium.

“The exhibit draws upon the rich collections of contemporary and historic images, documents and artifacts held by the Mountain Heritage Center, Special Collections of Hunter Library, and the university’s Office of Public Relations to highlight several of the people, places and projects that shaped today’s university,” Meister said.

The exhibit will be on permanent display in the north lobby of the museum.

In addition to a permanent section on WCU’s founding and development, the exhibit also will include a changing section that will highlight various aspects of university life. The first changing section will focus on “Music at WCU” and will be on display through spring 2012.

WCU emeritus history professors H. Tyler Blethen and Curtis W. Wood, authors of “A Mountain Heritage: The Illustrated History of Western Carolina University,” headed the exhibit team. Blethen, Wood and Mountain Heritage Center director Scott Philyaw also have collaborated on a Web-based university history, which will become part of WCU’s website later this year.

For more information about the reception and performance, or other Mountain Heritage Center programs and special events, call 828-227-7129 or visit www.wcu.edu/mhc.





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