Explore centuries of our region’s key events at the newly opened Asheville Museum of History

The museum opened Wednesday, Oct. 25 in Asheville’s oldest surviving house, the Smith-McDowell House.


View artifacts + read up on our region’s key developments and traditions.

Photo by AVLtoday

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Back in April, the WNC Historical Association announced plans to open the Asheville Museum of History — and after months of work, the museum opened its doors yesterday, Wednesday, Oct. 25.

Previously a house museum operated by the WNC Historical Association, the Smith-McDowell House underwent extensive renovations to transform into the Asheville Museum of History.

Take a look inside

Through permanent and rotating exhibits, the museum offers an expansive view of our region’s history and all of the communities that have contributed to it. “We want to be representative of everyone. We want people to be able to see themselves and their history here,” shares Museum Director Anne Chesky.

As you walk through the entrance, you’ll find tall glass kiosks encasing artifacts that illustrate the critical developments and traditions that shaped our area, from railroad construction to folk dancing.

Take your time in the hallway as you explore a timeline of 103 key events in WNC’s cultural, economic, environmental, political, and social history, ranging from c1000 CE to the present day. This display is filled with major events that you may know a bit about, but there are plenty of engrossing inclusions that will give you a new perspective on the historic happenings of all 23 WNC counties.

timeline showing WNC history with artifacts in glass cases

Travel through centuries of WNC history.

Photo by AVLtoday

Then, dive into Spanish Renaissance architecture in the temporary exhibit showcasing the life and work of Rafael Guastavino, which was curated by MIT Professor of Architecture John A. Ochsendorf.

The museum is open Wednesday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $2 for ages 7-17, and free for kiddos ages 6 and younger. Pro tip: Locals can get in for free on Wednesdays — just show your ID at check-in.

Getting involved

Beyond exploring the museum, there are plenty of ways you can get involved. Consider purchasing a membership or volunteering to be a docent (particularly on Saturdays). Plus, if you have any historical objects stored away in your attic, the staff can help preserve them.