By Krishna Adams, Director of Visual Arts, Craft, Media and Design –
Fifty years ago, the Tennessee General Assembly with the special mandate to stimulate and encourage the presentation of the visual, literary, music and performing arts and to encourage public interest in the cultural heritage of Tennessee formed the Tennessee Arts Commission. Over the years, the Commission has maintained a permanent collection of art and cultural objects that were purchased or gifted.
A digital catalog is now available on the Commission’s website that highlights a selection of the seldom-seen works and the artists that created them. This tool will help the Commission ensure the preservation and documentation of these art forms and showcase their importance to the history and future of Tennessee.
The collection encompasses a diverse range of art representative of artists from across the three divisions of Tennessee. From contemporary works and fine craft to traditional folklife artistry, Tennessee is fortunate to have a long and enduring history of strong artistic expression.
The creation of the collection would not be possible without the collaboration and cooperation from the Tennessee State Museum staff and use of their cataloging resources. Located in Nashville, the Museum houses and maintains art collections of state government, including objects transferred by the Commission, Trust Collections from the Tennessee Historical Society, and Vanderbilt University’s Thruston Collection. Originating in 1819 in Ralph E. W. Earl’s Museum on the Public Square, the collections have grown in two centuries with the addition of military and cultural collections to become one of the premier state museums in America.
To discover information about the artist and their work in the collection, click on the name of an artist of interest. More artists and their works are added to the collection regularly— check back periodically to view new artists added to the list.
For inquiries about the collection, contact me.