Thursday, May 1, 2014

Museum of Appalachia

In addition to the American Museum of Science and Energy, the children and I visited the Museum of Appalachia over Cade's spring break. This museum--situated in Clinton, Tennessee, between Jim's mom's and my parents'--is another I'd visited as a preteen and/or teen. On the drive there, I told the kids that I remembered exactly one object on display: a giant hairball that had proven fatal to the cow from which it was taken. It's a memorable sort of thing, okay? And still on display.

One should visit the Museum of Appalachia on a pretty day, because--while it includes a few of the more standard-type, display buildings--it includes, also, many authentic, log structures (like the family home of Mark Twain!) that are set up as a historic, Appalachian village surrounded by farm animals and gardens.

The outside portion of the museum lends much to its very rich, overall experience of Appalachian culture. I have to admit, though, that I enjoyed most some of the indoor offerings: the collection of folk art on the top floor of the Display Barn, for example. I find myself increasingly fascinated by the art of common folk, especially those who have received no formal training. I'm amazed by the lengths to which a person will go to express himself or herself creatively, how (s)he will self-teach, how (s)he will make something out of little to nothing.*

I particularly enjoyed the Harrison Mayes collection in the People's Building, also. If you've been reading here for any amount of time, you know I've developed a true appreciation for roadside America. Mayes, a Kentucky native, fulfilled a near-death promise to God by making signs (including large, concrete crosses) and erecting them as far and wide as possible; he had a planetary, aviatic, evangelistic goal (as indicated by the initials P.A.E. that he inscribed mysteriously on much of his work).

Following are some of the photos (some edited, some not) that I took while visiting the Museum of Appalachia. I hope you enjoy them!

Mark Twain and Clementine

Irwin's Chapel Log Church Est. 1840

Signing a Prayer Request for Her Mamaw inside the Church

Harrison Mayes Sign

The outside and inside of a box that Harrison Mayes hung beside a door to his home.

*I had the opportunity to visit the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, recently. I planned to blog about it but never did: probably because photography is mostly prohibited at AVAM (I wanted to cry!), and I came away with few images. But AVAM is a showcase for the art of self-taught, little-known people. Each artist's story is included carefully with his or her work. I've never enjoyed a museum more and can't recommend it highly enough if you're in the Baltimore area.


  1. SWEET PICTURES! I especially like the last one, all the textures, colors, light vs. shadow...very cool!

    Just wondering, have you been to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian ( Right near the end of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Also a cool place to visit with the kids.

    Peace <3

    1. I have not but will absolutely make a point of it! Thanks, Jay, for all your encouragement!

  2. ha. i like the inside of that box...dont think i have been to clinton...sounds like a cool place...i am a total sucker for a cow killing hairball too....hmm...ha...

    1. You WOULD be, Brian! You're my kindred! ahahahaha

  3. Brandee,

    What neat photos: rustic, simple beauty. Euhh, I don't know if I'd want to see that giant hairball. :) Glad you had fun. We enjoy museums too.

    Do you homeschool? I've forgotten. Did you enjoy your recent atom lessons too? It's amazing to study, huh?

    Glad to have you join my blog. Thanks! I grinned decided to do the same. It's funny to simply keep typing in your site's address when I know I'll be here often anyway.

    Jennifer Dougan

    1. Hi, Jennifer! I'll begin my homeschooling journey in the fall; my little kids are 5, 3.5, and 1.5. My big kid, who's 14, has always been in the public schools, and I've been happy w/ his education. Things are very different for me, now, than they were when my big kid started school. :)

      We've made a couple trips to the American Museum of Science and Energy, recently; thus, our lessons on atoms. Fascinating! :)

  4. loved this adventure and I simply adore the reflection photo! looks like you are having so much fun with jim and the kids and I think you are awesome for planning distractions for jim, I know its hard.....its very hard.... my heart sighs... and I think of you going through my paperwork that I am STILL struggling with and having to deal with daily... LOVE YOU