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Museum of Appalachia, Clinton

#42 of 212 in Museums in Tennessee
Must see · History Museum · Museum
The Museum of Appalachia, located in Norris, Tennessee, 20 miles (32 km) north of Knoxville, is a living history museum that interprets the pioneer and early 20th-century period of the Southern Appalachian region of the United States. Recently named an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, the museum is a collection of more than 30 historic buildings rescued from neglect and decay and gathered onto 63 acres (250,000 m2) of picturesque pastures and fields. The museum also preserves and displays thousands of authentic relics, maintains one of the nation's largest folk art collections, and hosts performances of traditional Appalachian music and annual demonstrations by hundreds of regional craftsmen.
The museum was established in the 1960s by John Rice Irwin, an East Tennessee educator and businessman, who has followed the basic philosophy of preserving not only structures and artifacts relevant to the region's history, but also preserving each item's individual history— who owned it, when and how it was created or obtained, and how it was used. These oral histories and recollections are housed, along with thousands of photographs, in the museum's archives. Starting from a single log structure, the museum has grown over four decades to include buildings such as the National Register of Historic Places-listed Arnwine Cabin, a rare Appalachian cantilever barn, and a cabin once inhabited by the parents of author Mark Twain. Relics on display include items owned by several notable or colorful Appalachian natives and thousands of tools detailing all aspects of rural life in Southern Appalachia. The museum's grounds mimic a working pioneer Appalachian farm, with gardens growing typical crops and animals such as goats, chickens, turkeys, and peacocks roaming the grounds freely. “What better way is there to know a people,” Irwin asked, “than to study the everyday things they made, used, mended, and cherished. . . And cared for with loving hands.”
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Museum of Appalachia reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
421 reviews
  • My wife and I planned a stop here, on a road trip between Virginia and Arkansas and we’re glad we did. Sadly, hillbillies are portrayed in the media today in disparaging ways. Thus we were grateful.....  more »
  • It is amazing to see the water troughs and other items carved from the huge trees. Amazing to see all the handmade items made from stone, wood and steel. This includes Tennessee Rifles. The...  more »
  • The Museum of Appalachia recently hosted our son's wedding rehearsal supper, and they are TOP NOTCH! I had visited the Museum before and enjoyed the exhibits immensely, and wanted to return. I ate lunch there too that day, and was blown away! This is a great venue to host your events! I highly recommend a visit to the Museum of Appalachia, it is an experience you will NEVER forget! Thanks to all the staff!
  • This was an amazing experience. The costumed presenters added depth. It was great having someone demonstrate how to use the various tools. Its hard to imagine what it is like to live in that day without the demonstrations. The weaver, sawmill and blacksmith were my favorite. The lady on the loom was awesome. She answered so many of our questions and let us get close to see what she was doing and explain all of the intricate parts. I would have liked to see the demonstration of broom making, rope making and basket weaving. I also enjoyed the peacocks and other animals. Of course the highlight was the anvil 'toss'. Thanks for doing such a great job preserving our history.

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