Do you love learning the history of the Smoky Mountains? A new museum in the heart of Downtown Gatlinburg opened in August 2014! The exhibit "Through The Years," traces the history, people, and crafts that make up the story of Gatlinburg, TN.
Specifically, the Gatlinburg History Museum covers the origin institutions like the Arts and Crafts Community in the Glades and the Arrowmont School that helped make Gatlinburg such a destination for finding unique, handmade gifts.
Photo Courtesy of The McClung Historical Collection, Knox Country Public Library
The History of Crafts in Gatlinburg
The hardy mountain people of Gatlinburg and the Sugarlands community were once quite remote from other parts of the nation. Early in Gatlinburg's history, local residents had to be independent to live in this rugged part of the mountains.
Life was hard in the Smoky Mountains. Making tools, pottery, blankets, looms, candles, brooms, and other goods was just a necessary part of survival. As Gatlinburg became a vacation destination, the art of making handicrafts survived as the tourist industry grew. Visitors admired the skill, ingenuity, and artistry of Gatlinburg's locals and wanted to bring handicrafts home due to their high quality and artistic appeal.
Today, the tradition of making crafts continues with groups like the Arrowmont School and the Glades Crafts Loop. Vacationers can learn even more of Gatlinburg's history and see it for themselves at the Gatlinburg Heritage Museum.
Many local families that have made Gatlinburg their home for generations donated antiques and heirloom pieces to make this museum possible. Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies was also generous enough to offer a recently renovated space for a home for the collection. Furniture, quilts, and tools are all displayed here that tell the unique story of this quiet mountain town that has become one of the most visited destinations in the country.
The Gatlinburg History Museum is located at traffic light #5 in Downtown Gatlinburg. Visitors can find the museum in an area to the right of the ticket counter at Ripley's Aquarium. For hours of operation, please call (800) 588-1817 and ask about the museum exhibit.
Parking for the history museum in Gatlinburg can be found at the city parking garage behind Ripley's Aquarium. Parking here is only $6 for the day and this location is convenient for taking a stroll in Downtown Gatlinburg.
Final Thoughts on the Gatlinburg History Museum
This exhibit is a great exhibit for guests who want to learn the story of Gatlinburg or for those who want to admire Smoky Mountain craftsmanship. Another nearby site of interest is the Arrowmont Gallery across the street from Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies. On the grounds of the Arrowmont Crafts Shop you'll also find the Ogle Cabin that was built in 1804 and stands as one of the oldest cabins in East Tennessee.
To see other great museums that tell the story of the Smoky Mountains, consider visiting the museum at the Sugarlands Visitor Center, the Mountain Life Museum in Oconaluftee Visitor Center, and the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center in Townsend. These museums have a greater focus on the people who lived within the present boundaries of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but it tells part of the story of what early life was like in Gatlinburg, TN.
Gatlinburg History Museum
88 River Rd.
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Written by Hayden Brown