Knoxville Museum of Art

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Knoxville Museum of Art
Established 1961
Location 1050 World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
Coordinates 35°57′45″N 83°55′31″W / 35.96250°N 83.92528°W / 35.96250; -83.92528Coordinates: 35°57′45″N 83°55′31″W / 35.96250°N 83.92528°W / 35.96250; -83.92528
Director David L. Butler

The Knoxville Museum of Art (KMA) is a contemporary art museum located at 1050 World's Fair Park in Knoxville, Tennessee. The KMA is committed to developing exhibitions by emerging artists of national and international reputation.


The museum was founded by Mary Katherine Dulin Folger in 1961 as the Dulin Gallery of Art. The gallery was housed in the H.L. Dulin House at . The Dulin House was designed in 1915 by prominent architect John Russell Pope in the Neoclassical Revival style. The museum merged with the Knoxville Art Center in 1962, and the name was changed in 1987 to the Knoxville Museum of Art, the same year that the museum moved to the Candy Factory building at the site of the 1982 World's Fair.[1]


The present 53,200-square-foot (4,940 m2) museum building was completed in 1990 following an $11 million community fundraising campaign. The steel and concrete building, designed by architect Edward Larrabee Barnes, has an exterior skin of Tennessee pink marble. The building is named for Jim Clayton, who was the largest donor to its construction.[1]

The museum includes five galleries, as well as a Sculpture Terrace, and two large outdoor garden areas.[1]


The Museum collection consists of work primarily from the 20th and 21st century. Included in the collection are many well-known artists, including Charles Burchfield, Gordon Cheung, Ori Gersht, Red Grooms, Wade Guyton, Robert Longo, Loretta Lux, William Morris, Ulf Puder, Hiraki Sawa, Kenneth Snelson, Robert Stackhouse, and Anne Wilson. The museum is also committed to the preservation and development of arts in East Tennessee. The collection holds examples of work by many of East Tennessee's notable artists, including Lloyd Branson, Adelia Armstrong Lutz, Catherine Wiley, Joseph Delaney, Walter Hollis Stevens, Richard Jolley, and Bessie Harvey.

The museum has a collection of nine Thorne Miniature Rooms. The rooms are notable miniatures, designed by Narcissa Niblack Thorne. The largest collection of Thorne Miniature Rooms is located at the Art Institute of Chicago.[2]

In 2009, the museum announced plans for the permanent installation of a sculpture in glass to be created by Richard Jolley. The sculpture will cover the museum's Great Hall, an area 100 feet long by 40 feet wide. The installation, titled, “Cycle of Life, Within the Power of Dreams and the Wonder of Infinity,” scheduled to open in May 2014, is expected to be the largest figural glass assemblage in the world, at 185 feet and 7 tons. [3]


In 2008, the museum opened Higher Ground: A Century of the Visual Arts in East Tennessee, the KMA's first-ever permanent installation, incorporating works from the museum’s own holdings as well as loans from other institutions and collectors. The exhibition documented the art history of East Tennessee and its many "connections to the larger currents of American art are largely unknown, and certainly underappreciated."[4] Artists included Catherine Wiley, Lloyd Branson, Joseph Delaney, Beauford Delaney, and Bessie Harvey.

The museum has featured solo exhibitions by contemporary artists such as Anne Wilson, Jun Kaneko, Candida Höfer, Maya Lin, Jim Campbell, Anton Vidokle, Johanna Billing, Eva Zeisel, Chuck Close, and Ai Weiwei.

The museum also has an ongoing interest in the creation of first solo museum shows for promising new artists. As part of this ongoing series, KMA has been host to solo exhibitions by artists such as Liz Collins, Tam Van Tran, Oliver Payne and Nick Relph, Clare Rojas, Sarah Hobbs, Michael Raedecker, Timothy Horn, Seonna Hong, and Tomory Dodge.



  • Knoxville: Fifty Landmarks. (Knoxville: The Knoxville Heritage Committee of the Junior League of Knoxville, 1976).

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