Mountain Heritage Center administrator earns lifetime service award


Pam Meister, interim director and curator of Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Center, was honored in October with the James R. Short Award from the Southeastern Museums Conference. A nonprofit organization committed to supporting and connecting museum professionals in 12 states, SEMC presents the award to individuals who have given a lifetime of service to the profession with a significant portion in the Southeast.

Pam Meister

Pam Meister (center), curator and interim director of the Mountain Heritage Center, is joined by (from left) the center’s graduate assistants, Emily Baker and Katie Bell, at the Southeastern Museums Conference.

With three decades of experience in cultural resource management, Meister has helped benefit museums throughout the region, said Anna Fariello, associate professor of digital initiatives at WCU’s Hunter Library. “Pam has given a lifetime of service, bringing professionalism, creativity and caring to our field through education, administration and curatorship,” said Fariello, who nominated Meister for the award.

Before joining WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center four years ago, Meister worked in roles including director of education and interpretation at the Atlanta History Center, executive director of the Upcountry History Museum, and president and CEO of the Charlotte Museum of History. She also worked as chief curator of the Jekyll Island Museum in Georgia and as arts coordinator at the Okefenokee Heritage Center in Waycross, Georgia.

“In 1985, I left performing arts management for my first museum job and fell head-over-heels in love with museum work and museum workers,” said Meister. “Twenty-nine years later, I still feel that way. Working at the Mountain Heritage Center is a dream come true. I’ve always enjoyed teaching, and being involved in training the next generation of museum professionals is extremely rewarding. I am honored to receive the Short award because SEMC has been such an important influence on my career – both as the organization’s director and as an active member – and to be recognized by the southeastern museum community is both humbling and thrilling.”