Permanent display will be added to collections

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NORTH AUGUSTA --- The Arts and Heritage Center of North Augusta will add depth to its collections next month with the addition of a permanent display from the South Carolina National Heritage Corridor.

The arts center announced Monday that it will take over interactive exhibits formerly housed at the corridor's Discovery Center in Blackville. The Blackville location was shut down in June because of federal budget cuts.

The area's only other center is in Edgefield County.

"It could have been an unfortunate situation, but now this will be available to the community and anyone who wants to see them," said Mayor Lark Jones.

Blackville and North Augusta also share a "Rivers, Rails and Crossroads" theme, which means the interactive exhibit will transfer well into Aiken County's story, said Lauren Virgo, director of the Arts and Heritage Center.

The self-guided tour leads visitors through the history of rural communities and historic back roads of South Carolina. The exhibit will be housed in the first floor lower gallery of the Heritage Center. Rotating exhibits will still be featured quarterly, said Virgo.

The S.C. National Heritage Corridor is a 240-mile path running through 17 counties, from Oconee to Charleston. There are 49 National Heritage Areas in 32 states nationwide.

Last year, the S.C. National Heritage Corridor sought public and private partnerships to underwrite Discovery Center operations. The group also had a 10-year plan to wean centers off federal funding after several years of declining budgets.

The Arts and Heritage Center will extend its operating hours and stay open until 5 p.m. from Tuesday through Saturday once the exhibit opens.

The exhibit installation should be complete by the last week in January.


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