Monthly Archives: October 2013

McClung Museum, Knoxville, TN

It was cold and raw out today so we decided to go somewhere we could be inside.  We chose the McClung Museum, which is in Knoxville on the University of Tennessee campus.  It is a medium-sized museum with a very eclectic set of collections.  It had a room of Southwestern pottery; a room on Egyptian archaelogy; a room about Tennessee Indian history; one on local geology and paleontology with a skull of Edmontosaurus, a duckbilled hadrosaur; an collection of design art from around the world; a corridor display on the Civil War battle for Knoxville; a corridor display on fresh-water mussels and finally a room on human fossil ancestors.  Whew!

Susan with a Neanderthal skeleton
Susan with a Neanderthal skeleton

All of the rooms were concise and well laid-out.  All of the exhibits were well labeled. We’ve been to a lot of museums, so the local elements made sense but we didn’t quite see how the pottery, Egyptian artifacts and the exhibit on human evolution fit in however that’s half the fun of going to museums like these, the unexpected exhibits.

Richard in the Egyptian Room
Richard in the Egyptian Room

We give the McClung Museum an A- for handicap accessibility.  The entrance and exhibit rooms were eminently acceessible and almost all of the exhibits were easy for Susan to see from her wheelchair.  The only minor dink would be that the handicap accessible bathrooms had a short ramp and heavy door that Susan needed help with.

No snow but cold enough, thank you!

Once again we left New England later than we’d like.  This time at least we haven’t had any snow, but the cold certainly caught up with us.  We’re in Baileyton, Tennessee about 850 miles down the road from Massachusetts.  It was 24 degrees outside when I got up today.  We knew it was going to be cold so I had disconnected us from the water and put the hose and filters away where they wouldn’t freeze.  When I went out this morning to reconnect them there was frost everywhere.  It’s a good thing we filled our propane tank a couple of days ago!

Frosty morning in Tennessee
Frosty morning in Tennessee

Gray Fossil Museum

While re-building of a road in 2001 construction workers unearthed a find of Miocene Age (about 5 million years ago) fossils.  The site ended up being preserved instead of bulldozed and paleontologists from the University of Tennessee have been digging up fossils ever since. They built the museum right next to the dig site, and in fact from a second-story patio you can see the dig site and in-season there is a ramp leading down to it.

Susan in the Gray Fossil Museum
Susan in the Gray Fossil Museum

The fossils are from the relatively recent past so many of the mammals and reptiles would be recognizable, although shovel-tusked elephant, hornless rhino and camels without humps would look a bit odd.   The museum was very proud of the recent discovery of a new species of Red Panda.

Richard at the fountain outside the entrance to the Gray Fossil Museum
Richard at the fountain outside the entrance to the Gray Fossil Museum

We suspect the museum was designed with visiting schoolchildren in mind, since the displays and placards seemed to be aimed in that direction.  The fossil site is what used to be an ancient pond and is only slowly being excavated, which limits the number of skeletons and species on display.  Even though we walked slowly and read all the placards, we finished viewing the entire the museum in under an hour.

We give the Museum an A- for handicap accessibility.  We had no trouble whatsoever traveling throughout the museum with Susan’ wheelchair and the bathrooms were easily handicap accessible.  The only slightly negative aspect was a couple of displays were arranged a bit too high for Susan to view.