Knox County Public Library and the East Tennessee Historical Society are pleased to open a new feature exhibition entitled Lights! Camera! East Tennessee! on November 19 at the Museum of East Tennessee History (601 S. Gay Street).  

The exhibition explores the magic of moving images from the earliest promotion of Thomas Edison's Kinetoscope in 1895 to hometown folks who've walked the red carpet. East Tennesseans have factored into Hollywood from the glamour days of the golden era to current blockbusters. They've directed Hollywood's greatest stars, written some of the most classic screenplays, and racked up some of the most prestigious awards for outstanding performances on the silver screen. Moreover, the region has been the backdrop to movies starring everyone from Ingrid Bergman to Sam Rockwell, Hal Holbrook, and Burt Reynolds. 

Today, most people know the Clarence Brown Theatre, named for a graduate of Knoxville High School and the University of Tennessee. But few people know his outsized impact on Hollywood as one of MGM's most prominent directors. Brown was famous for working successfully with iconic stars such as Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Joan Crawford, Elizabeth Taylor, and Mickey Rooney. Likewise, James Agee is recognized today as a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist, but in his time, he was better known as a pre-eminent film critic and screenwriter. Knoxville was home to Best Oscar winner, Patricia Neal, and Disney's Sleeping Beauty, Mary Costa. The list goes on. 

The exhibition also explores the local movie theatre scene - from the urban movie palaces to the suburban cineplexes - and the story of segregated movie houses. These stories and more will be on display through July 3, 2023. 

Lights! Camera! East Tennessee! is open daily in the Rogers-Claussen Feature Gallery. It was made possible with the generous support from Humanities Tennessee, the Jay Family, Visit Knoxville Film Office, Downtown Knoxville, Arts & Cultural Alliance, and UT Libraries.  

If you would like more information about this exhibition, visit our website or call 865-215-8824.

The East Tennessee Historical Society is one of the most active private historical organizations in the state. We specialize in finding creative ways to introduce the public to the fascinating world of history. Lectures, tours, award-winning exhibits, family heritage programs, genealogy classes, and student and teacher education appeal to people of all ages.

Recognizing that East Tennessee’s history, heritage, and geography are distinct from the rest of the state, the East Tennessee Historical Society provides services and programs uniquely tailored to the region. ETHS partners with and promotes the history and events of organizations and sites across our 35 counties. We have 45 affiliate chapters across the region.