Area Info / Pack Place

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Pack Place, Downtown Asheville

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Only in Asheville can one find such a diverse mix of culture. Arts, theatre, dance, African American heritage, and Geology are all things that define our world; to find them all at the same location is nothing short of amazing. Pack Place houses the Asheville Art Museum, Colburn Earth Science Museum, Diana Wortham Theatre, and the YMI Cultural Center, making it one of the highest concentrations of culture in the South.

Pack Place Construction
Pack Place under construction
Pack Place, Today
Pack Place, Today

While bringing together all of these organizations took the combined efforts of a community, it began as the vision of one man. Pack Place is the grand culmination of Roger McGuire's vision that Asheville, a city with so much potential, could be even better.

Keenly aware of history, Roger McGuire knew that Asheville had been harder-hit by the great depression than most cities. Even in the 80s he was able to see the scar that it left on the buildings of downtown and began to feel that something was missing. Soon McGuire and his colleagues teamed up with the Junior League and the North Carolina Arts Council to set about rebuilding Asheville's downtown.

That was in 1982; it would be 10 long years of planning and building before the vision was realized and Pack Place opened its doors. McGuire had faith that Pack Place would give Asheville a way to express pride in itself and the area; he was surely more successful than he could have hoped. Let's take a look at some of the invaluable occupants of today's Pack Place.

The Asheville Art Museum

The Museum plays a vital role in the arts community of Western North Carolina as its sole visual arts facility. As the only resource for art programs and museum quality collections in the region, The Asheville Art Museum strives to work with the community to enhance both public access and education of the arts by offering workshops, lectures, a library, films and more. They also offer volunteer opportunities, travel programs, and an amazing collection of art.

Colburn Earth Science Museum

Striving to foster an appreciation of the Earth and its mineral resources, The Colburn Earth Science Museum provides the public with exhibits, educational programming, and the collection and upkeep of specimens. They offer an extraordinary collection of mineral crystals and gemstones both from North Carolina, and all over the planet. Check out the amethyst crystal cluster from Due West, South Carolina in the Hall of Minerals, be amazed by the 2,405.5 carat boulder opal from Australia, and explore the Petrology Collection, the Fossil Collection and more. Asheville is a fitting home for the museum as North Carolina's mineral fields have the greatest variety of minerals in the nation.

Diana Wortham Theatre

One of Asheville's finest theaters offers year round performances of theater, music, and dance. Hosting a variety of nationally touring acts as well as professional and avocational regional arts groups, the Diana Wortham Theatre provides an invaluable resource to Western North Carolina. The 500+ seat theater was designed by Peter George to have flawless acoustics, state of the art lighting, and an overall intimate feel.

YMI Cultural Center

The YMI Cultural Center exists to celebrate African American Culture and Diversity in the Asheville community. Since it was started in 1893 as the Young Mens Institute, the YMI has served Asheville's minority citizens. Preserving and engaging with the history of African Americans in Western North Carolina, the YMI strives to “Facilitate a cultural dialog through the promotion of on-going programs and special events.” These events include the Asheville Goombay! Festival, an Annual Kwanzaa Celebration, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration. There are several noteworthy permanent exhibits: "In the Spirit of Africa" which includes selections of traditional and contemporary African masks, figurative woodcarvings, beadwork, jewelry, and textiles. "African American Culture-Ancestral Legacies Program" presents children from throughout the region with the chance to study music, dance, painting, sculpture, and other traditional African crafts. These and other permanent and traveling exhibitions are just some of the ways in which the YMI Cultural Center helps Asheville to celebrate its proud African American heritage.