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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Museum of Appalachia

My favorite museum of all time is the Museum of Appalachia in Norris, TN. 

The Museum seems to have somewhat of an identity crisis.  From looking at their brochures and their website, the museum seems somewhat....well, boring.

It looks like your typical farming heritage location, packed with quilts and dusty farm equipment.

There are plenty of quilts and farm equipment, but that's not the good part.  The inside of the museum contains some of the most amazing and quirky artifacts one could ever wish to see. 

Take a look at this PERPETUAL MOTION MACHINE!


The story is that a man named Asa Jackson built a working perpetual machine, a wheel that would keep turning forever without any sort of outside force, before the civil war.  When the war broke out Asa was afraid that dirty yankees would steal his technology and he dissembled the machine.  When Asa died, no one could figure out how to get it to work properly again.  The civil war cost us so much.....including free unlimited energy.

What makes the museum different is that it celebrates the lesser known common people, rather then the famous.

Take for example this exhibit on Cas Walker, the Knoxville Politician that discovered Dolly Parton.



Or check out Gol Cooper's glass eye, displayed right along with the knife that he accidentally stabbed his real eye with out.



The Museum has an impress collection of zany banjos.....

Check out this banjo made out of a can of country ham.


Or this banjo made from a bedpan....


Or this banjo with a tail....


The museum has one of the most remarkable and freaky collections of folk art I have ever seen.  Here is an exhibit on the mysterious "Cedar Creek Charlie" who painted everything that he owned with polka dots.



Here is a collection of wonderful gourd sculptures.



Here is a self portrait sculpture of Minnie Black, the woman that made them.


My personal favorite sculpture is "The Devil" made by a man who found a giant lump of wood in the forest and transformed it into Satan with the addition of horns and horse teeth.


Here is a look at some of the other amazing art here.....




There is a lovely collection of funeral supplies including a collection of children's caskets


Including this child's coffin converted into a toolbox.


Check out this amazing metal casket, with built in peek-a-boo window


 One of the strangest displays is the collection of "Angel Crowns", mysterious swirls of feathers found in the pillows of dead children.


One of the biggest parts of the Museum of Appalachia's collection is their exhibit on Harrison Mayes, a facsinating legend of the Southern Roadside known for planting concrete crosses across the country.


Read more about Harrison and the exhibit at my earlier post...

Of course if old tools and farm buildings ARE your thing, do not fear.....They have you covered




And of course they have the obligatory moonshine still....


As a added bonus, in their farm exhibits there are peacocks everywhere for no reason at all....



In a somewhat surreal experience, during my first visit to the Museum of Appalachia I accidentally walked out in front of a bride on the way to the alter.....whoops!
 
 
All in all, I would say that the Museum of Appalachia is a stop shop for everything that this amazing about the Mountains.

The Carpetbagger

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