Museum’s Growth Attracts National Attention | Lifestyles
Since opening in October 2016 in the lobby of the former Aethelwold Hotel, the Veterans History Museum of the Carolinas has welcomed more than 20,000 visitors from 48 states and 26 countries.
After a three-month exhibit at the Transylvania Heritage Museum in early 2017, the museum moved to 21 E. Main St. (next to the County Courthouse) where it has grown by every measure imaginable.
The museum’s open days, programs, media presence and activities have expanded to attract more visitors to Transylvania County and give hikers, cyclists, kayakers and tourists a reason to stay longer. From March to July 2022, 1,395 people visited the museum.
National and international recognition
The Smithsonian Magazine recently quoted one of the articles from the museum’s website.
A group of Vietnam veterans based in Chico, Calif., asked how they could watch the guest speaker show “Talking About Vietnam” online.
Program Manager Greg Ehr now posts all programs on the museum’s Facebook page. Social media manager Ken Corn uploads these programs to the museum’s YouTube channel and website manager Katy Rosenberg posts the programs on the site’s “Personal History” and “News” pages as permanent attractions for web traffic.
Nine local WWII veterans attended three gatherings over the past nine months, where they were honored to be introduced to the public, have private meals with WWII book authors, to share their stories with grateful citizens and to receive handmade gifts from museum volunteers.
Two of these veterans benefited from all-expenses-paid trips to places in Europe where they served and fought in the war.
D-Day veteran George Sarros has returned to Normandy Beach. Ed Cottrell traveled twice to Saint-Tron, Belgium, where he flew 65 missions as a fighter pilot during the Battle of the Bulge.
These trips were made possible by the museum’s publicity in the online version of the Transylvania Times and by nationally recognized guest speakers who met these veterans at museum events.
Six Korean War veterans were honored in July at a gathering of family and friends at the American Legion lounge in Brevard.
The museum is now open five days a week, adding Tuesdays to its previous Wednesday-Saturday schedule. New exhibits include a 1943 WWII Willys Jeep, a 1942 Harley-Davidson (driven by Army MPs in Europe), and a WW1 rifle.
A 14-foot Soviet missile will arrive this week. If you’ve already visited, now is the perfect time to come back and see what’s new.
Our exhibit, “Women in the Army,” now has a new look, with the addition of illuminated display cases showing unique artifacts complementing the many portraits of women in uniform on the wall.
Vietnam War Brig. General Robert L. McCann is now proudly displayed in the window overlooking Main Street – an added display you can enjoy from the grassy courtyard next to the gazebo.
wall of honor
More than 300 gold plaques honoring both veterans and active military personnel now adorn the museum’s wall of honor. This honored place in the lobby and main hallway provides a permanent display of service member names, service branches, service dates, and special details of their service. Many families hold a special ceremony to view their family members’ plaques together.
Group, Free Story
Veterans Coffee & Conversation is a discussion group for veterans only, with the aim of sharing stories and experiences, whether combat or not. All veterans and military are welcome. On the first Tuesday of each month, Vietnam veteran Phil Mayrand leads these meetings at the VFW station in Brevard. For more information, please call him at (941) 275-5430 or email [email protected]
The museum is now offering guest speaker programs throughout 2022 – a mix of area veterans telling their stories and nationally acclaimed guest authors with book signings. An upcoming October program is co-sponsored with the History Department at Brevard College.
Here are some of the upcoming programs:
•August. 26: “My U2 Years: Dancing with the Dragon Lady”, presented by Col. Richard “Duke” Woodhull, US Air Force (Ret.)
•Seven. 8: “Winning the European Skies of WWII”, presented by Lt. Col. Bob Wilkerson, US Air Force (Ret.)
•Oct. 20: “Loyal Forces: The American Animals of World War II”, by Toni Kiser, author of the book of the same name. A graduate of Brevard College, Kiser is director of collections management at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.
•Nov. 2: “Black Snow: Curtis LeMay, the Firebombing of Tokyo, and the Road to the Atom Bomb,” a program about the book of the same name, by James Scott, author and Pulitzer Prize finalist
These programs are now broadcast live on the museum’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/veteransmuseumcarolinas/ and the videos can be viewed on the museum’s website.
To receive email notifications of all museum events, please email your request to [email protected] The museum’s weekly newsletter now has 1,675 subscribers.
Museum website, Video
Docent program in the
Works & Media
From January to April 2022, 6,560 people visited the museum’s website, an increase of 33% compared to the same months last year.
The number one search was “museums near me”. People are looking for museums and they find one in Brevard at www.theveteransmuseum.org. Our website provides the visitor with photographs and descriptions of exhibits to give them a taste of what they can experience when they come here.
Coming this fall: an exciting educational program funded by North Carolina Humanities and local partners: “Through Their Eyes.”
It will depict America’s history during wars from World War I to the War on Terror. Each gallery will have its own Ken Burns-style five-minute video to watch on the website or in person at the museum.
Over the past year, museum representatives have appeared on television in Knoxville, Asheville, Greenville and Charlotte to introduce the museum to a wider audience throughout the region.
The museum’s four social media accounts have 3,366 followers to date. Many of these followers share. A recent story on Facebook reached 3,100 people.
A commercial sponsor, Egolf Motors, has made several videos giving brief tours of different galleries in the museum, which are posted on Egolf’s social media. These create additional visitors on the museum’s social media. This sponsor helps in more ways than one!
Please check: https://www.facebook.com/veteransmuseumcarolinas, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNnvRrbNV0NSf9W3RshC0RA/videos, https://twitter.com/MuseumWncand https://www.instagram.com/veteransmuseumcarolinas/.
Military History Library
Judge Jack Matthews donated his library of hundreds of military volumes and biographies to create the museum’s military history library. Along with this generous start, many more were given; it even now includes a children’s section. Members of the public are invited to peruse the shelves of books.
Expanded gift shop
Browse the museum’s newly stocked gift shop, which includes museum-logo T-shirts, polo shirts, and caps.
Three original books telling the stories of local veterans of World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War are up for sale. You may know some of these neighbors who told their stories for these books. All proceeds go to support the museum’s mission: to honor, educate, preserve.
Since April 2022, five companies from Transylvania County have joined the museum’s new business sponsorship program.
The museum now proudly displays its logos on the museum website, e-newsletters and prominently during our speaker programs. We thank Egolf Motors, OP Taylor’s, The Cherry Tree, Transylvania Vocational Services and Harris Ace Hardware for being the first, and welcome other sponsors. Please contact Mike McCarthy at [email protected] or 828-506-6671 for more details on how to be part of our ever-expanding work to honor American veterans.
Over the past year, many other businesses and nonprofits have donated funds, exhibit supplies, or raffle gift cards: Transylvania Vocational Services (TVS), Broad Street Wines, OP Taylor’s, Ingles Markets, Falls Landing, Lowe’s, Food Matters, Diamond Rush Jewelers, Walmart, Tractor Supply, White Squirrel Shoppe, Dragonfly Gallery, Sully’s Steamers, Cup & Saucer, Mantiques, Dugan’s Pub, Ecusta Brewing Company, Falls Landing, The Cherry Tree, The UPS Store, Harris Ace Hardware, Elements Spa, Bill Bailey Fitness Training, Theophilus, Sully’s Steamers, United Community Bank, Brevard Brewing Company, American Legion Auxiliary, Sacred Heart Ladies Guild, The Cabinet Shoppe, Redrocket Nonprofits, MOAA (Military Officers Association of America) and The December 1 Charitable Trust.
The museum continues to thrive in large part due to the support of local donors such as Lake Toxaway Charities, Pisgah Forest Rotary, Transylvania County, and North Carolina Humanities.
The museum is fortunate to now have the largest number of volunteer scouts (docents) in its more than five-year history. They work shifts from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. or from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Some are veterans with stories to tell and some are non-veterans who volunteer to honor veterans.
All have ears to listen to your stories and give you a warm welcome.
Museum tours are self-guided, so volunteers don’t need to be experts. For more information, please contact Carl Newman at (828) 877-5924 or [email protected]
In addition to these Pathfinders, the museum now needs help with mailings, addressing envelopes, special events (food and logistics), office administration and management, publications, public relations ( writing), business sponsorships, computer skills and bookkeeping. Please call (828) 884-2141 and we will arrange for the appropriate person to speak to you to learn more about your interests.
As always, admission to the museum is free. For more information, visit www.theveteransmuseum.org.