Heritage Center curator Pam Meister honored for achievements

Pam Meister (center), curator and interim director of the Mountain Heritage Center, was joined by (from left) MHC graduate assistants Emily Baker and Katie Bell at the Southeastern Museums Conference. Meister was honored with a lifetime achievement award at the event, and Baker and Bell presented “Working with Community: Creating an Exhibit Through Connections and Collaborations in Jackson County, N.C.” at the conference. (Photo by and courtesy of Nathan Moehlman)

Pam Meister (center), curator and interim director of the Mountain Heritage Center, was joined by (from left) MHC graduate assistants Emily Baker and Katie Bell at the Southeastern Museums Conference. Meister was honored with a lifetime achievement award at the event, and Baker and Bell presented “Working with Community: Creating an Exhibit Through Connections and Collaborations in Jackson County, N.C.” at the conference. (Photo by and courtesy of Nathan Moehlman)

Pam Meister, interim director and curator of Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Center, was honored Oct. 22 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.

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 addition, Meister served as SEMC interim director in 2010 and executive director from 1990 to 1997. During five of those years, she simultaneously served as executive director of the Louisiana Association of Museums and helped grow membership and services to enable the organizations to support separate offices.

Meister also has been an adjunct professor teaching courses related to museum studies and cultural resource management at institutions including Southeastern Louisiana University, Georgia College and State University, the University of West Georgia and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She is a founding faculty member at SEMC’s annual Jekyll Island Management Institute, a leadership and management training program for museum professionals.

In other service, she has been a peer reviewer for the American Alliance of Museums and a grants reviewer for the Institute for Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Georgia Council for the Arts.

A native of New Orleans, Meister earned a master’s degree in arts management from the University of Georgia and a bachelor’s degree in theatre with a minor in history from the University of New Orleans.

“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.”

For more information, contact Meister at pameister@wcu.edu or 828-227-3192.