The History, Philosophy, & Mission of the Museum of Appalachia


The Museum of Appalachia, founded in 1969 by John Rice Irwin, portrays an authentic mountain farm/village with some three dozen historic log structures, exhibit buildings filled with thousands of authentic Appalachian artifacts, gardens surrounded by split rail fences, and farm animals in a picturesque setting.

In 2001, the Museum was incorporated as a 501(c) (3) organization to ensure its long-term sustainability. In April 2007, the Internal Revenue Service granted the Museum permanent status as a publicly supported organization.

The Museum now operates under a Board of Directors with many years of experience in private, non-profit, and government sectors.

In May 2007, the Museum announced its formal association with the Smithsonian Institution’s Affiliations Program.

Today the Museum continues a program of expansion and growth, adding new exhibits, buildings, and educational programs to enhance its mission to inform and entertain visitors while “preserving the past for the future.”

We seek not only to preserve the physical relics of an earlier time; our greater mission is to instill in the community— regionally, nationally, and internationally—a greater knowledge of and appreciation for the Appalachian heritage.