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Earl Scruggs Center busy despite shutdown
A mural honoring Earl Scruggs has been painted on the popular pedestrian alley side of Newgrass Brewing Company in Shelby. It was painted by artist Scott Nurkin of The Mural Shop in Chapel Hill, NC.

Like many museums and other public event venues, the Earl Scruggs Center (ESC) in Shelby has been closed since mid- March. But while the building might be closed to visitors, the museum staff has stayed very busy developing a variety of activities for virtual visitors.

"Once we realized that we were going to need to be closed for a while, our staff went right to work figuring out what we needed to provide to our community," says Mary Beth Martin, ESC executive director. "I am really proud of the way our staff has really stepped up and figured out how to deliver our services in new and creative ways."

One of the first projects that the staff began to work on was the development of the Center's YouTube channel.

"We had some videos from 10 years ago that had never been shared publicly, so we used our YouTube channel to begin sharing these priceless pieces of Shelby's history," says Martin.

The videos covered stories from four threads in Shelby's past: Textiles, the African-American story, Music, and 21st century innovations. Thirteen of the 16videos have been released so far, with more to come.

A new video series titled "Collection Curiosities" also debuted recently on the channel.

"In this newest video our curator, Zach Dressel, takes a look at two very rare coins in the Cleveland County Historical Collection that have a deep connection to the first gold rush in American history," says Martin. "Viewers can learn about the importance of gold in North Carolina and how one German immigrant used this gold to change the entire Southern economy."

The ESC has also been working with the Uptown Shelby Association and artist Scott Nurkin of the North Carolina Musician Murals Project to coordinate the painting of a mural in Uptown Shelby.

"We are proud to share that a mural honoring Earl Scruggs has been painted on the popular pedestrian alley side of Newgrass Brewing Company in Shelby," says Martin. Artist Nurkin works through his business, The Mural Shop in Chapel Hill, NC.

"This mural is part of the North Carolina Musician Murals Project, whose mission is to honor trail-blazing North Carolina musicians and the communities that produced these influential and diverse music-makers," says Martin. "The artwork features an image of young Earl Scruggs early in his legendary career. We really hope folks will check it out."

One new innovative event that the ESC is debuting this month is a trivia night contest.

"We have been very pleased so far with the reception we have had to this new idea," says Martin. "If we find that there's enough interest we may have more trivia nights in the future."

This month's trivia night, with the theme of "All About Earl," will take place on Thursday, July 16, 2020, at 6:30 p.m. Registration is required and participant spaces are expected to fill up quickly, so those interested are urged to register soon on the ESC website at www. EarlScruggsCenter.org. The first place winner will win two passes to the Earl Scruggs Center. Those who just want to watch the contest can tune in to the live feed on the ESC Facebook page on Thursday, July 16, at 6:30 p.m.

A long-time tradition at the ESC has been the center's "Coffee with the Curator" events.

"Our new curator, Zach Dressel, came to us in April in the middle of the pandemic, so he has already conducted several virtual 'Coffee with the Curator' events," says Martin. "We are not sure if this month's event will be in-person or virtual, but the show will go on regardless of the format."

The next "Coffee with the Curator" will take place on Wednesday, July 22, 2020, from 10:30 - 11:30 a.m. This month Dressel will facilitate a discussion on a topic relating to our county's history and present items from the Cleveland County Historical Collection. Those interested should stay tuned to the ESC website and social media for an announcement on the topic and location.

For more information about events and resources from the ESC, visit the center's website at www.EarlScruggsCenter.org or find them on social media at "Earl Scruggs Center."

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