Kevin Cherry, deputy secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, and State Archivist Sarah Koonts will be the guests of honor at Mountain Gateway Museum & Heritage Center in Old Fort on Friday for a special preview of “Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives,” a traveling exhibition featuring 26 rare historical items from the State Archives’ collection in Raleigh.

The exhibit preview and reception will begin at 6 p.m. Friday at the museum, 24 Water St., Old Fort. This free event is open only to members of the Friends of the Mountain Gateway Museum (FOTMGM), the museum’s non-profit support group. However, anyone can join FOTMGM, and new members are always welcome. A variety of membership levels is available, beginning at $15 for an annual individual membership.

For membership information, visit FOTMGM’s website at www.mgmfriends.org or the museum’s website at www.mgmnc.org or come by the museum.

In addition to serving as deputy secretary of DNCR, Cherry directs the state’s Office of Archives and History, overseeing the operations of the divisions of state History and Maritime Museums, State Historic Sites and Properties, Archives and Records, Historical Resources (including the State Historic Preservation Office, Office of Historical Research, and the Office of state Archaeology), and commissions (including Roanoke Island Festival Park and Tryon Palace), as well as education and outreach, according to a news release.

As keeper of the Capitol, Cherry oversees the museum functions of the state Capitol and the Executive Mansion. He also is the secretary of the North Carolina Historical Commission and the state historic preservation officer and a member of numerous professional archives, public history, and historical associations.

An archivist by training, Cherry previously worked for the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in Washington, D.C., where he coordinated the nation’s largest competitive grant program for libraries and archives. He also has taught in the College of Education at East Carolina University and worked as the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources’ consultant for special collections. In the latter position, he helped transition the state’s special collection libraries, archives, museums, historic sites, and historical societies into the digital age through NC ECHO (Exploring Cultural Heritage Online), a program adopted by numerous other states.

A native of Denver, N.C., Cherry has a B.S. in biology, an M.A. in history, and both an M.S. and Ph.D. in information and library science, all from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Koonts became North Carolina’s state archivist in 2012. Working with a staff of nearly 70, she is responsible for the statewide archives and records management programs operated by the division. She also oversees the operation of the Archives' two regional branches, including the Western Regional Archives in Asheville.

With more than 190,000 cubic feet of public records, private manuscripts, organizational records, and non-textual materials in their care, the division of Archives and Records operates one of the largest and most comprehensive state archives operations in the country. Government records analysts work with state and local agencies to ensure public records are properly retained and disposed, while archivists prepare materials for public use in the search room and assist patrons with genealogical and historical research, according to the news release.

Before becoming director of Archives and Records, Koonts had more than 20 years of experience with State Archives in a number of different posts. She has worked in public services, local records analysis, and preservation programming among many other fields.

For more information about “Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives” or to learn how to become a member of the Friends of the Mountain Gateway Museum, contact the museum at 828-668-9259.

Located at 24 Water Street in Old Fort, the museum is open year-round, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free.

For details about the State Archives of North Carolina, go to archives.ncdcr.gov.

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