McClung Museum, Knoxville, Tennessee
When I was in the Big South Fork Recreation Area in Tennessee there were some bad storms forecasted so I had looked up some alternative activities and found the McClung Museum, a free anthropology museum in Knoxville, Tennessee. The weather turned out milder than expected that day however so I went ahead with my hike and opted to postpone my visit to the museum until I was traveling south.
The McClung Museum is small but has an impressive collection and well-designed exhibits. The Native Peoples of Tennessee gallery was truly exceptional, illustrating the last 15,000 years of human habitation in Tennessee through use of their outstanding artifact collection. I very much enjoyed the anthropological exhibit versus the more standard display of artifacts as objects devoid of context or meaning; the individual displays and exhibit cases really bring to life the history of the peoples who have lived in this area over the millennia and cover a very broad range of topics. The Native Peoples exhibit was by far my favorite section of the museum through I also very much enjoyed the temporary exhibit of European and American Art as well as the Ancient Egyptian gallery. The latter, while not having many original pieces, uses plaster casts and models (particularly the extensive educational model of the Temple of Karnak) to illustrate aspects of Egyptian culture and life. This exhibit too was expertly curated, both educational and highly engaging. I was pleasantly surprised to come upon a cast of William, a 12th dynasty faience hippopotamus that happens to be one of my favorite pieces from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. My former co-workers may recognize him since a postcard of him was one of my only decorations on my desk.