The Museum of Appalachia, located in Norris, Tennessee, north of Knoxville, is a living history museum that interprets the pioneer and early 20th-century period of the Southern Appalachian region of the United States. Recently named an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum is a collection of more than 30 historic buildings rescued from neglect and decay and gathered onto of picturesque pastures and fields. The museum also preserves and displays thousands of authentic relics, maintains one the nation’s largest folk art collections, and hosts performances of traditional Appalachian music and annual demonstrations by hundreds of regional craftsmen. The museum was established in the 1960s by John Rice Irwin, an East Tennessee educator and businessman, who has followed the basic philosophy of preserving not only structures and artifacts relevant to the region’s history, but also preserving each item’s individual history— who owned it, when and how it was created or obtained, and how it was used. These oral histories and recollections are housed, along with thousands of photographs, in the museum’s archives. Starting from a single log structure, the museum has grown over four decades to include buildings such as the National Register of Historic Places-listed Arnwine Cabin, a rare Appalachian cantilever barn, and a cabin once inhabited by the parents of author Mark Twain. Relics on display include items owned by several notable or colorful Appalachian natives and thousands of tools detailing all aspects of rural life in Southern Appalachia. The museum’s grounds mimic a working pioneer Appalachian farm, with gardens growing typical crops and animals such as goats, chickens, turkeys, and peacocks roaming the grounds freely.

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