Preserving America’s Largest Home
Alumnus Darren Poupore ’92 is Chief Curator at Biltmore Estate
UNC Asheville alumnus Darren Poupore ’92 has put his History degree to use in a really big way. Poupore is the chief curator at Biltmore Estate, a national historic landmark and America’s largest home. Poupore, who has worked at the estate for 12 years, oversees the archives and all curatorial work.
“I love my job. I love the people that I work with, and I love the work that I do,” Poupore said. “I’m always working on a new project and it’s always grounded in history, which is a historian’s dream.”
Poupore, an Asheville native, had toured the estate as a fourth grader on a class trip and was amazed. But it wasn’t until he was in graduate school that he began to see the familiar Asheville landmark with new eyes. “It just blew me away,” he said.
Poupore finished a master’s degree in maritime history and museum studies from East Carolina University and landed a job at the Maine Maritime Museum, where he worked for four years. But after braving the harsh Maine winters, Poupore decided to look for a new job back in the southeast.
“Just as chance would have it, there was an opening at Biltmore,” he said. “I was called for an interview and then another interview. The next thing I knew I was the associate collections curator.”
Since then, Poupore has moved through the ranks in the curatorial department and now leads a team of four. His daily duties include a wide a variety of tasks, from moving a historic object in the house to doing research. In addition, Poupore is working on several special projects this spring. He is overseeing a restoration of Biltmore Estate’s second-floor living hall and preparing for a Tiffany lamp exhibition coming to the estate in July.
Poupore admits that he loves the variety, but is especially fond of the research. “The best part of my job is getting time to research the Vanderbilts and their friends and employees,” he said. “It’s also pretty cool that I can go into any room in the 250-room house.”
All kidding aside, Poupore feels that his UNC Asheville degree laid a solid foundation for the important work he does now. He especially credits the substantial amount of required writing and research he completed as an undergrad.
“The senior research class and thesis class—those definitely prepared me for graduate school. I walked right into graduate school completely prepared, and in many ways ahead of some of my fellow students,” he said. “A public liberal arts education prepared me for the great career I have now.”
I love my job. I love the people that I work with, and I love the work that I do.
I’m always working on a new project and it’s always grounded in history, which is a historian’s dream.” —Darren Poupore ’92