Core Sound Museum welcomes you to come visit with us "at the end of the road" where Core Sound traditions are lived and shared every day throughout the year. Programs, events, special guests and dedicated volunteers will make sure your time with us is meaningful and you will leave eager to return. 




At the heart of Core Sound Museum & Heritage Center is the Main Gallery, home to a permanent collection of life and culture, past, present, and future, in Down East Carteret County. The Main Gallery is a diverse and dynamic exhibition including:

25th Anniversary Exhibition
Core Sound Decoys
Carolina Decoy Collectors Association 2015 Antique Vintage Decoy Competition Winners
Workboats of Core Sound
Protecting Our Water Quality
North Carolina Heritage Award Recipients: Lewis Boatbuilders
The film Coresounders shown daily



Designed in the style of hunt clubs that once lined the Outer Banks, the Gathering Room honors the legacy of the Museum's founding board chairman — Billy Smith — whose leadership helped lay a foundation upon which the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center was built. 

The Gathering Room is filled with local and regional decoys and hunting memorabilia including the Billy & Janice Smith Collection featuring world-class decoys by Louisiana carvers Earl Federine, Tan Brunet, Jude Brunet, and Jimmy Vizier. The Roy Willis Collection honors his family's generations of decoy collecting with more than 100 decoys and hunting artifacts collected from the Core Sound region.

Our appreciation goes to the Smith Family for their contined support of Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center and their sponsorship of the Smith Family Gathering Room. 



The Library is home to more than 400 books and periodicals, including rare and out of print copies on regional wildfowl, waterfowl, hunting, birding, carving, boatbuilding, commercial fishing, folklore, art, storms, firearms, maritime history, quilting, community life, and more.  Many of the books are available for checkout to our members. It is an inspiring quiet place where visitors are welcome to read, study and absorb the art, decoys and history that surrounds them here.

Many thanks to Emily Monk Davidson for her generosity and commitment to this most important part of our museum.



The Cape Lookout Reading Room, dedicated in memory of Capt. Josiah Bailey and Les & Sallie Moore, is home to over 25 years of oral history recording and transcripts, including Coastal Voices, a digitized oral history archive related to the cultural traditions, natural history and people of coastal North Carolina.   

The archive includes a collection of community and scholarly work, photographs and publications relating to the Core Sound region and rural coastal communities of North Carolina; and, serves as a repository for collections of the Cape Lookout National Seashore, Outer Banks History Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Southern Oral History Program and other regional oral history research.

Open by appointment for visitors, researchers, and students. 

The regional archive is made possible by the generosity of Bud and Anna Doughton, along with many Friends of Cape Lookout. 



"From here you can see forever!"  That's how you will feel when you take the elevator to the Lookout Tower's magnificent view of Core Sound, Back Sound, Barden's Inlet and the Cape Lookout Lighthouse. And Core Banks to the east and Shackleford Banks to the west will remind you how close the great Atlantic Ocean is to our Down East communities. 

It is the closest you can possibly get (without boarding a boat) to experience Cape Lookout's beauty and history. We hope you will visit often!

The Lookout Tower has been made possible by the generous support of the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament.



Dedicated to the life and work of David A. Lawrence — carver, artist and friend of the Core Sound Museum. David's Room serves as place where carvers continue to share their craft with visitors, students and one another. Surrounded by David's art, decoys, and hunting artifact collection, David's room is the perfect place for visitors and students to learn more about the living tradition of decoy carving along Core Sound. 

Our thanks to the Core Sound Decoy Carvers Guild for their support of the Museum’s commitment to carrying on the art of decoy carving in our community and beyond.



The Sunshine Lady Education Hall provides an excellent venue for changing exhibitions of art, photography, documentary projects, as well as program areas and community meeting space.

Thanks to the support of the Sunshine Lady Foundation and Touchstone Energy, this community center serves as the gathering place for Down East events, weddings, public meetings, school field trips and reunions. 



Our children's area and reading skiff is a favorite place for museum visitors under the age of 12. This corner stays busy throughout the year, especially during the summer, where reading, science, and craft activities draw pre-school aged kids to come play, learn and explore.

Our thanks to the William Ellis Smith family for their support of educational programming for local children. 



Quilting is a time-honored tradition throughout coastal North Carolina and Core Sound is proud to continue the tradition with an active quilter's group. The Core Sound Quilt Crew provides demonstrations on Tuesday every week and at events throughout the year. Come visit, learn and listen to the laughter! 





Gathered and interpreted by local community members, the second floor gallery tells the history and traditions of each community — past and present — in the Core Sound area. The exhibit includes Cedar Island, Atlantic, Sea Level, Stacy, Davis, Williston, Smyrna, Marshallberg, Gloucester, Straits, Harkers Island, Otway and Bettie, as well as, ancestral communities of Salter Path on Bogue Banks and the Promise Land in Morehead City, and the historic communities of Portsmouth Island and Diamond City on Core and Shackleford Banks.

Each community display showcases artifacts, reproductions, photographs, scrapbooks, and copies of archival documents from family collections, churches, schools and community organizations eager to share their heritage with museum visitors. 

View Community Gallery Guide 
Visit Down East Heritage Tour



The Smithsonian Museum on Main Street’s Traveling Exhibition Hometown Teams came to Core Sound in 2015, carrying forward years of research, displays and programs recognizing the rich sports history in Carteret County.

A glimpse of that history and experience is on display on the second floor of the gallery with sports memorabilia, photos and online access to the accompanying website that holds more than 100 years of Carteret County sports history.

The project was sponsored by the North Carolina Humanities Council and made possible by thousands of hours from hundreds of volunteers.  It was - and continues to be - an exciting gathering of community memories.  

Visit for a preview.





Thanks to the Lewis Family, the Jean Dale continues to be part of Harkers Island’s boatbuilding tradition, telling the story of their father, Mr. Harry Lewis and his way of making a living on Core Sound. Representative of the world famous flared bow, she is the story of Harkers Island. Encompassed in the fine craftsmanship and artistry of Brady Lewis' design are the essential elements that defined life on Harkers Island in the mid-1900s. Restored in 2010, the vessel's history reflects the talents and strength of a community of people who for generations have made a life for themselves and their families with that same style and ingenuity. 

The Jean Dale restoration has been made possible by the dedication of Bob and Suellen Monk.



The Willow Pond Trail offers visitors and students an outdoor opportunity to experience the beauty of an uninterrupted maritime forest that serves as a "safe harbor" for migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. This natural, freshwater pond allows the museum's interpretive programming to include the complete story from live ducks to decoys and the importance of providing clean and safe areas for our wildlife. The educational programs taking place around Willow Pond focus on building a broader understanding and appreciation for our natural coastal environment.

Ducks Unlimited, North Carolina Wildlife Resources, North Carolina Wildlife Habitat Foundation and the Hagan Family have provided this important outdoor learning experience for our community. Thank you!