NASHVILLE, Tenn. — TN Tribune — The Tennessee State Museum is the recipient of the 2022 Southeastern Museums Conference (SEMC) Silver Award in the over $100,000 budget category for its current exhibition, Painting the Smokies: Art, Community, and the Making of a National Park. The SEMC Exhibition Competition showcases the best in our profession and provides benchmarks for regional exhibition efforts in southeastern museums.

“We have the highest regard for the work of the Southeastern Museums Conference and for the many museum colleagues throughout the region who join us as members,” said Ashley Howell, executive director, Tennessee State Museum. “The Great Smoky Mountains is an area that has been well travelled in the last century. We saw an opportunity to explore the subject of the park’s creation, through art and artifacts from within our collection, to tell an expansive story of the region. To be honored by a panel of peers for this exhibition is a great honor and team accomplishment.”

Home to the most-visited national park in America, the Great Smoky Mountains have enchanted tourists, nature-lovers and artists for generations. Painting the Smokies: Art, Community, and the Making of a National Park, open now through January 15, 2023, invites visitors to examine the history of the park through the work of five visual artists active around the time of its creation, about 1900 to 1940. Placing art in conversation with artifacts, the exhibition was curated by the Museum’s Candice Candeto, Annabeth Dooley, Matthew Gailani, and Debbie Shaw. Additional support provided by scholars Michael Aday, Adam Alfrey, and Anna Fariello. Institutional support came from Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Knoxville History Project, and the Beck Cultural Exchange Center.  Lending institutions include The Johnson Collection, Rockford Art Museum, East Tennessee Historical Society, the McClung Historical Collection and Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

The SEMC Exhibition Competition received a record-breaking number of applications in 2022 from a wide variety of museums across the southeast. The competition recognizes exhibitions for overall excellence or for stretching the limits of content and design through innovation. Winning entries were well-designed exhibitions of merit with educational value and demonstrated, respectful treatment of objects. Recipients of the awards were judged by an appointed jury of museum professionals across the region who specialize in curatorial studies and exhibition design.

Award winners will be celebrated at the 2022 Annual Meeting Awards Luncheon on October 26, 2022, in Rogers, Arkansas, and in the Fall 2022 Edition of INSIDE SEMC, a digital publication of the Southeastern Museums Conference. This designation recognizes the Tennessee State Museum’s contribution to professional standards in Southeastern museums.

About Tennessee State Museum

Celebrating its 85th Anniversary in 2022, the Tennessee State Museum, located on the corner of Rosa L Parks Blvd. and Jefferson Street at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, is home to 13,000 years of Tennessee art and history. Through six permanent exhibitions titled Natural History, First Peoples, Forging a Nation, The Civil War and Reconstruction, Change and Challenge and Tennessee Transforms, the Museum takes visitors on a journey – through artifacts, films, interactive displays, events and educational and digital programing – from the state’s geological beginnings to the present day. Additional temporary exhibitions explore significant periods and individuals in history, along with art and cultural movements. The Museum is free and open to the public Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. For more information on exhibitions and events, please visit TNMuseum.org.