Visitors to Knoxville and residents alike will enjoy visiting our local art museum. Knoxville Museum of Art traces its roots to the Dulin Gallery of Art. Formed in 1961 and originally located in the H.L. Dulin House on Kingston Pike, the organization served as a regional arts center hosting a variety of events and exhibitions. By 1987 it had outgrown its original space, and became the Knoxville Museum of Art with the goal to create a centrally located art museum for Knoxville. KMA was temporarily housed in the Candy Factory until its permanent building was opened in March, 1990. It recently saw a major renovation that was completed in March, 2014.
Knoxville Museum of Art focuses on the art of East Tennessee, and offers free admission in addition to other programs and workshops hosted throughout the year. The museum is broken up into several galleries, and currently hosts two semi-permanent exhibitions, Higher Ground: A Century of Visual Arts in East Tennessee and Currents: Recent Art from East Tennessee and Beyond.
Higher Ground features artwork from the museum’s permanent collection as well as works on loan from private collections. It highlights the historical importance and ongoing legacy of East Tennessee artists. Many of the works on display also point to other locations in Knoxville. The legacy of C. Kermit “Buck” Ewing, for instance, lives on in the gallery named after him; the Ewing Gallery of Art and Architecture. Paintings by Adelia Lutz may also be seen in her studio at Westwood, the historic house museum and Knox Heritage’s preservation headquarters. The works of African-American artists Joseph and Beauford Delaney have reached international acclaim, with a recent article in the New York Times.
Currents is an extension of Higher Ground featuring contemporary artists from East Tennessee and beyond. Works range from in style from the paintings of Marcia Goldstein, a former art instructor at the University of Tennessee, to the work of New York installation artist, Devorah Sperber. Artwork in this gallery is rotated periodically from the museum’s permanent collection. In addition to the museum’s semi-permanent galleries, it hosts rotating exhibits throughout the year. During the Fall of 2016, the Eleventh Annual East Tennessee Regional Student Art Exhibition was on display in the galleries on the second floor. Each year the exhibition highlights the artwork of Middle and High School students in East Tennessee, an important part of the museum’s mission to educate and serve a diverse community.
Knoxville Museum of Art also features the elaborate installation, Cycle of Life, by the glass sculptor, Richard Jolley. Cycle of Life is one of the largest figurative glass-and-steel assemblages in the world, and it may be found on lower level of the museum that also leads out the gardens. The Garden level also includes the Facets Glass Gallery, the Throne Miniature Rooms, and other amenities. Visitors with young children will enjoy Creative Corner, an interactive play center that is fun for both children and parents alike. The museum also hosts a variety of workshops and after hours events that may be found here.
Knoxville Museum of Art is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. Fewer than 10% of American museums hold this distinction.