Combine spunk, artistic flair, and a chic ambiance and you’ve got the recipe for downtown Knoxville, Tennessee. Downtown Knoxville is a seriously cool place, and over the course of the last decade, it’s been rapidly growing.
Any trip to Knoxville should include ample time to explore and enjoy downtown Knox. There’s just so much to see, do, and experience in downtown, but by far the Knoxville Museum of Art is one of our favorite places.
There are art museums, and there’s Knox Art. Overlooking the site of the 1982 World’s Fair, Knox Art is a 53,200 square-foot facility, designed by the renowned American architect Edward Larrabee Barnes. The building is four stories made of steel and concrete and sheathed in locally-quarried Tennessee marble.
It’s stunning, to say the least, and that’s just the exterior.
Why We Love Knoxville Art Museum
Knox Art features a plethora of exhibits. Over the decades since opening, the museum collection and programming have evolved to become increasingly focused on the rich culture of the Southern Appalachians and to “celebrate the art and artists of East Tennessee.”
With so much on offer for guests to take in, the question begs – where to begin?
How about we let you in one the exhibits we’re currently crushing on!? Seriously, there are some truly spectacular exhibitions right now, many of which will be open through the summer season as well!
Virtual Views: Digital Art From the Thoma Foundation
February 3rd – July 16th
Completely different from the traditional 2D art, this exhibit is very interactive and features nine electronic works using digital technology. Drawn from the extensive Chicago-based collection of Carl and Marilynn Thoma, Virtual Views explores the importance of electronic new media in contemporary art.
This exhibition allows the visitor to be a part of the artwork and to interact with each piece, which brings a sense of involvement and ownership. Every single piece is unique in its own way and emphasizes technology as a form of art. Truly a remarkable exhibition, don’t miss it!
Gathering Light: Works by Beauford Delaney From the KMA Collection
May 5th – July 23rd
The newly opened Gathering Light is, without a doubt, one of the most significant exhibitions ever to grace the walls of Knox Art. Beauford Delaney is widely considered one of the greatest artists Knoxville has ever produced, and one of the most important American abstract painters of the late 20th century.
Knox Art acquired approximately 40 of Delaney’s paintings and drawings, many of which have never before been on public view. Knox Art acquired the collection in the hopes that museum visitors will gain more insight into the life of Beauford Delaney and will enjoy getting a first-hand look at the beautiful paintings.
Delaney himself is an inspiration, despite facing many obstacles over his lifetime, he achieved an international reputation for his portraits, scenes of city life, and free-form abstractions marked by intense colors, bold contours, and vibrant surfaces.
The chance to gaze upon works of such an iconic artist that only a very small amount of others have ever looked at before is a spectacular feeling, and we hope you get the chance to experience it!
Knox Art Highlights
There’s still so much left to see in Knox Art! As you make your way through the museum, we recommend checking out:
- Any of the Catherine Wiley and Beauford Delaney painting in Higher Ground
- Various sculptures and life-like pieces in Currents
Alive After Five
Ready to experience Knox Art after hours, in the most unique way possible? Plan your trip to one of the Alive After Five events! Alive After Five is Knoxville’s unique live music experience. It happens on most Friday nights and includes live music, dancing, spirits, food, and fun!
Alive After Five is a great way for newcomers to explore the museum. Before the show, attendees can check out the galleries and visit the gift shop. Shows happen year-round including the summer. A schedule can be found at knoxart.org.
For The Kiddos
Knox Art offers Summer Art Academy to help increase children’s knowledge or art, develop their artistic techniques, fine motor skills, critical thinking skills, and confidence! Each week the museum offers a new art class, which keeps art camp fun and engaging.
And the best part of the museum is that entry is always free! Certain exhibitions and special events aren’t free, but general admission into the museum during normal operating hours is free!
Do you plan on visiting from out of town? Book your stay at the nearby TENNESSEAN Hotel, literally walking distance from Knox Art! The TENNESSEAN Hotel opened this past year and will enhance your overall Knox experience. Situated in the heart of downtown Knox, you can easily explore all downtown has to offer while enjoying plenty of rest and relaxation within the cozy and luxurious hotel.