The word museum is of ancient Greek origin. A “mouseion” describes a temple of muses. This was the place where the people in ancient times paid their homage to the goddesses of art, culture and science.
I looked it up out of sheer curiosity. I really like the origin of the term. Instantly I picture of a splendid temple on a hill with olive trees in my head where white claded figures lay down beautiful things. After all, goddesses are sophisticated!
Nobody wears a white toga today, the museums of today still pay their homage to the beautiful arts, rich cultures and flowering sciences anyway.
At the moment I am part of one of the temples of muses. I started to work as a volunteer at the front desk of the KMA – Knoxville Museum of art in January and will soon be their first German docent.
The museum is not only impressive because of its art. There is consciously or unconsciously a connection between the architecture of the building and ancient temples. The Greeks would also have liked the building as a sanctuary for their muses. The architect, Edward Larrabee Barnes covered the concrete- and steel-construction behind a façade of pink Tennessee marble.
That enforced the picture I drew earlier. The rosy cube is situated at an elevated position next to the World’s Fair Park. You can see Knoxville’s landmark, the Sunphere from the two adjoining gardens of the museum. Rising up 266 ft in the air the Sunsphere is a huge golden ball on a tall tower that leaves an impression of its own kind.
By entering the pinkish building you will find five galleries spread over the three floors of the museum. One room is dedicated to the Thorne Rooms, miniature rooms and miniature furniture in different historical styles.
In the Bailey Hall you can admire the work of Richard Jolley’ “Cyle of Life”. The artist worked for 5 years on the 6 to 7 ton glass and steel installation. A gallery of modern and contemporary glass pieces is a great addition to that. Two changing exhibitions display different kinds of art like local, digital plus international pieces and a whole lot more.
My favorite galleries are “Higher Ground” and “Currents”. “Higher Ground” shows the historical art of East Tennessee. I am deeply impressed by the diversity. Starting with the area of impressions to the modernism of the 20. century the artists in and around Knoxville were really active.
In “Currents” you can see contemporary pieces from Tennessee and from all over the world. I could spend hours between the large-sized works, the partially really true-to-life sculptures and the exiting new approaches.
So if you’re in the Knoxville area by chance you should definitely come to the museum. You can expect a kiss of the muses and the admission is free. And if you’re lucky I’ll sit on the front desk and will ask you: “Hi, how are you today? Do you want to hear a little about the Knoxville Museum of Art?”