Riding the rails in Chattanooga

August 21, 2007

Today’s Chattanooga Times Free Press brings word that the National Railway Historical Society is holding its annual convention in Tennessee’s best city for rail buffs.

This convention is the eighth one held by the Society in Chattanooga, and the members will be all over the Tennessee Valley Railroad, which is the best combination of rail museum and train ride in the state.


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Fisk vs O’Keeffe Museum: another option

August 7, 2007

As reported in the Nashville Tennessean, Fisk University and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum have settled a lawsuit brought by the Museum that sought to prevent Fisk from selling a Georgia O’Keeffe painting now owned by the University. Radiator Building–Night, New York (shown below) is part of the 101-painting Alfred Stieglitz Collection of modern art given to Fisk by the artist in 1949. If the agreement is approved by Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle, Fisk will sell the Radiator painting to the Museum for $7.5 million, and will gain permission to sell Marsden Hartley’s Painting No. 3.



According to David West, the spokesman for Fisk, “the scope of our financial challenges requires a large infusion of cash to provide a lasting fix for our circumstances.” The key word here is “lasting.” Fisk has an increasingly difficult time raising money and fulfilling its mission. The University should reassess what it can do and should do. My recommendation? Sell the entire collection, and use that money to transform Fisk into an institute that will better fit the 21st Century.

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Battle of Knoxville exhibit opens at McClung Museum

August 6, 2007

As Civil War battles go, the Battle of Knoxville wasn’t one of the big ones, but, not counting clashes in Chattanooga, it was the largest one in East Tennessee. The McClung Museum on the University of Tennessee campus is about to open a new permanent exhibit on what is known locally as the Battle of Fort Sanders.


Photo courtesy of McClung Museum

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NY Times features Museum of Appalachia

July 27, 2007

Nice piece in today’s New York Times Escape section on the Museum of Appalachia in Norris. The article leads off with a look at the famed collection of Appalachian buildings and artifacts, as well as a chat with John Rice Irwin, the founder.  Writer Keith Mulvihill recommends eating in Cumberland Gap, Tennessee at Webb’s Country Kitchen.

The piece wanders through Kentucky and Virginia and comes back into Tennessee, where Mulvihill discovers Jonesborough. He then comes to the Smokies, where he makes the mistake that so many writers do by claiming that more than nine million people visit the park annually. In truth, the Park Service counts nine million visits every year, not visitors. There’s a huge difference between the two.


Photo of Museum of Appalachia courtesy Tennessee Department of Tourism

This blog is part of a much larger website, also entitled Tennessee Guy, that contains travel and cultural information about Tennessee. Visit it here.

Bill Monroe homeplace and resting place

July 17, 2007

Allow me one more trip into Kentucky and then I’ll get back to Tennessee.

Bill Monroe is one of the few people who created a musical genre, and visitors to Rosine, Kentucky can see his birthplace and his grave. The 1994 documentary, High Lonesome, depicted him walking around the house in which he was born and reminiscing about Uncle Pen and family life on Jerusalem Ridge. The house at that time was an abandoned wreck. Monroe died in 1996, and the Bill Monroe Foundation has restored the house and opened it for visitors.


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Cas Walker film in Knoxville

June 13, 2007

Due to popular demand, Knoxville’s East Tennessee Historical Society will show This is Cas Walker, a film about East Tennessee’s most famous–and most notorious–grocer and public figure. The film will be shown on June 22 as a part of Treasures From the Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound: A Film Series.

As described in the publicity, “Scenes and outtakes from his popular television show, The Cas Walker Farm and Home Show, as well as vintage commercials and rare early performances by local performers such as Dolly Parton will be included, along with newly discovered footage that was not part of the original screening.”


Photo courtesy of WBIR
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Creation Museum opens: Thank God for Kentucky!

May 28, 2007

The Creation Museum opened its doors to the public for the first time today, attracting a great deal of media attention. Everyone who cares about Tennessee’s national image should mark this opening by bowing down and say “Thank God for Kentucky!”

We used to say “Thank God for Mississippi,” for so many times the Magnolia State kept Tennessee off the bottom of the list of the 50 states in dollars spent on public education or items along that line. Now Kentucky has caused us to dodge a bullet, for is the unfortunate site of the Creation Museum, an embarassment that is at once an affront to science and an insult to intelligence.

I know that a state has no control over what sort of institutions choose to set up shop there, and Tennessee already has enough eye rollers, thank you very much, but we certainly didn’t need this one. We’re still living down the Scopes Trial. Having a place like the Creation Museum or Bob Jones University (which was founded in Cleveland, Tennessee but mercifully slunk off to South Carolina) has a bad effect on how a state is perceived by the rest of the country.

Having this Creation Temple of Disinformation in one’s borders lowers the stock of high school graduates, reduces the influence of that state’s colleges, and makes Kentucky the fodder for comedians everywhere. Thank goodness it wasn’t Tennessee!


Confederate Museum should move to Tennessee

April 4, 2007

Today’s Washington Post has a wonderful article on the struggling Museum of the Confederacy, which is located in downtown Richmond, Virginia. The Museum has terrific exhibits, such as the hat below, which belonged to General J.E.B. Stuart. Visitation, however, peaked at 90,000 people per year during the 1990s, and the Museum now faces hard times. All but boxed in by the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, the Museum is hard to find, has little parking, and and is getting eclipsed by the nearby American Civil War Center.

The solution? Move the Museum to Tennessee and model a new museum on the very successful American Civil War Center, which looks at the war from three perspectives: North, South, and African-American. Tennessee has an abundance of battlefields and plantations and visitors who would line up and buy tickets.

Of course, this will never happen. Virginians will never let those artifacts out of Richmond. Nonetheless, Tennessee is ripe for a state-of-the-art museum with a comprehensive approach to the most fascinating period of American history.


Fossil Museum building complete

February 28, 2007

The new building sitting beside the increasingly famous Gray Fossil Site between Kingsport and Johnson City is now complete, and will be turned over to East Tennessee State University later this week. According to a story in the Johnson City Press, construction will then begin on exhibits and a laboratory. No date has been set for the official opening of the museum.

Carroll Reece Museum reopens

October 30, 2006

Johnson City’s Carroll Reece Museum, on the campus of East Tennessee State University, has opened its doors to new exhibit space and spiffed-up exhibits.

The Museum focuses on art and Appalachian culture.  It has the best collection of musical instruments on this end of the state.  The Reece Museum, along with the Mountain Home Museum, the Birthplace of Country Music Alliance museum, and the upcoming Gray Fossil Museum, will force museum-goers to spend several days on this end of the state to see them all. 

:: Johnson City Press – Entertainment ::