The museum is housed in the historic Shelton House, home to Stephen Jehu Shelton and then to a son, William Taylor Shelton, founder of the Shiprock New Mexico Navajo Indian Reservation and School. The house, an excellent example of a typical Charleston-style farmhouse of the era was built in 1875 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The architecture of the Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts features stately columns, a double veranda, a central foyer leading into a dining hall, and a labyrinthine second floor layout. The restored interior is furnished with antiques.
In addition to its extensive crafts collection, the museum also exhibits many artifacts and furniture pieces collected and preserved from as far back as 18th century Waynesville. This collection includes hand woven coverlets, hand sewn quilts, fired pottery, sculptured porcelain, dulcimers, hand painted china, pewter crafts, and antique woven baskets and hand crafted porcelain dolls.