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Rowan Museum chooses Kepley as new director

Staff report

Rowan Museum Inc. has announced the selection of a new director, Aaron Kepley, to lead the future development of the museum’s properties and programs.

He will succeed longtime Executive Director Kaye Brown Hirst, who had announced earlier her plans to retire. Kepley will begin his new position as incoming director on April 1 and work with Hirst to learn the day-to-day operations until taking over completely June 1.

The museum board of directors’ executive search committee conducted a nationwide search and received applications from Arizona, Texas, Wisconsin and North Carolina. After a month of researching each candidate and his or her museum background, Kepley was chosen at the museum board meeting in March.

Kepley is not a stranger to the Rowan Museum. Early in his career he was an intern at the museum, where he continued to develop his desire to have a career in public history and museum studies.

Kepley graduated from Pfeiffer College with a bachelor of arts degree in history. His senior thesis was “Germans in the North Carolina Backcountry.” He was also the president of the History Club at Pfeiffer.

Kepley went on to complete 30 hours of history and museum studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he won the National Council on Public History Graduate Student Project Award and a N.C. Humanities Council grant for his studies on “Past the Pipes: Stories of the Terra Cotta Community.”

He presented his project at the N.C. Museums Council Conference in Raleigh.

These accomplishments led Aaron to internships at the Stanly County Museum and the Rowan Museum. He also became the local historian for Grace Lower Stone Church, a position he still holds today.

Kepley has served as historic interpreter for the Charlotte Museum of History and Town Creek Indian Mound State Historic Site.

He was the assistant site manager at Reed Gold Mine State Historic site before being chosen the new Rowan Museum director.

Kepley has traveled to Germany for cultural insights into why Germans came to settle in the Piedmont section of North Carolina. One of his ancestors was the last child born in the Old Stone House in Granite Quarry, a site he will now manage.

Kepley lives in Rockwell. After being tutored by Hirst, Kepley said, no one can replace her knowledge and love of Rowan County history. He added he will do his best to continue the vision and mission of the Rowan Museum, to save and share the long, rich history of Rowan County and its people.

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