2011 Road Trip Day 3 – Bumming around Knoxville

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The front I outran on Sunday in Louisiana finally caught up to me in Knoxville and the weather turned rainy. Thankfully, it hadn’t gotten cold yet so walking around wasn’t bad but all outdoor activities had to get shelved which is too bad since Knoxville is largely an outdoor kind of place. The first stop of the day was at the Knoxville Museum of Art. It’s a small museum built in 1990 on the World’s Fair grounds. There were 4 main exhibits. The main floor was showing local art students’ artworks. The upper floor had an interesting exhibit by artists from Eastern Europe who lived through the fall of Communism in their homelands. Also on that level, a linear retrospective through the art work of East Tennessee was featured. It was interesting to see artists like Lloyd Branson, one of the first popular artists in Eastern Tennessee and then follow his influence down through successive generations.

On the bottom floor was the Thorne Rooms, 9 scale miniatures rooms built out of the collections of Mrs. James Ward Thorne who had collected them throughout her life. It was fascinating to see the miniaturized versions of English kitchens or early American Bedrooms. These rooms provide a window into what it was like during previous time periods.

After the KMA, I went downtown and walked up Gay Street, the main happening thoroughfare in downtown Knoxville. The East Tennessee Historical Society is definitely worth a visit. They currently have a special exhibition on Abraham Lincoln and his presidential influence on the Civil War. Their main collection, the Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection is an immense and immersive history of how Eastern Tennessee has developed. You’d probably have to spend 2 days in it to really absorb it all. It details everything from the interactions with the Cherokee Indians to the development of enriched uranium at Oak Ridge.

After the museum, I just strolled the street for a little while. Mast General Store is an immense old time general store with plenty of current items to satisfy any shopper. I ended up at Volunteer Landing, a nice area on the Tennessee River. After Gay Street, I spent some time in the shops around Market Square. The Oodles Uncorked wine bar is worth a stop though that may be the wine talking.