WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center has gone to the dogs over the past few months, but that’s OK with museum staff members because it provided them with an opportunity to introduce the legendary Plott hound dog to many local residents and visitors to the region.
More than 2,000 people have visited the exhibit “Our State Dog: North Carolina’s Plott Hound” since it opened last October. The exhibit will remain on display at the Mountain Heritage Center through April 8, and then it will take on another life as a traveling exhibit, said center curator Trevor Jones.
The Mountain Heritage Center staff has been thrilled with the interest the exhibit has generated, particularly among local residents who otherwise might not have been motivated to visit the museum, Jones said. Planning for the Plott hound exhibit began in late 2008, and the driving force behind its development was David Brewin, curatorial specialist at the museum, Jones said.
A mountain resident since 1980, Brewin said he became fascinated with Plott hounds after hearing a lecture given in Sylva by Bob Plott, author of “Strike and Stay: The Story of the Plott Hound.”
“I read Bob’s book, and went from being fascinated with Plott hounds to being obsessed with them,” Brewin said. He bought a Plott hound last June from a breeder in Haywood County and gave her the name Nannie Plott. The hound has since become a regular around the Mountain Heritage Center, serving as a “live artifact” for museum educational programs. (See related interview with Nannie Plott.)
Bred to hunt big game such as bear and boar, Plott hounds have a reputation for being stubborn and tenacious in the field. Brewin said he doesn’t use Nannie to hunt, but he has found those traits in her. “Plott hounds have a very strong personality. They will try to impose their will upon you,” he said.
After April 8, the Mountain Heritage Center staff will disassemble the Plott hound exhibit and pack up a nonartifact version of the exhibit for shipping to Elizabeth City, where it will be on display at the Museum of the Albemarle from mid-May through the end of 2010. Jones said he was interested to learn that Plott hounds have a loyal following along the North Carolina coast, where they are used to hunt deer.
Other museums across the state, including the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, have expressed interest in hosting the exhibit, and the Mountain Heritage Center staff expects it to be on the road for years, Jones said.
Local Plott hound fans who want a keepsake from the exhibit are in luck. The museum is selling Plott hound T-shirts and posters, designed by John Balentine of the creative services staff in the Office of Public Relations. Proceeds are being used to help fund the museum’s programs. For more information, go to http://www.wcu.edu/2391.asp.
By Randall Holcombe