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Chattanooga, TN Museums

Hunter Museum of Art in Chattanooga, TN
Hunter Museum of Art in Chattanooga, TN

Plan to spend a day – or a week – exploring Chattanooga’s wide variety of museums.

For a mid-size American city, Chattanooga has an unusual abundance of museums.

“People can come to Chattanooga and explore a wide variety of topics – the natural world at the Tennessee Aquarium, art at the Hunter Museum and all kinds of things at the Creative Discovery Museum, which appeals to children,” says Katrina Craven, public relations and marketing director at the Hunter Museum of American Art.

Situated atop a 90-foot limestone bluff overlooking the Tennessee River, the Hunter Museum affords the visitor spectacular vistas as well as a glimpse into American art from the Colonial period to present day.

The museum is housed in a cluster of three adjoining structures – a 1905 classical revival mansion, a 1975 building and a contemporary wing that opened in 2005. On display are paintings, sculptures, blown glass, crafts and multimedia works. Pieces by Andy Warhol, Whitfield Lovell, John Singer Sargent, Asher Durand and Samuel Morse are among the treasures in the permanent collection.

After viewing art, visitors can stroll a few blocks to the Tennessee Aquarium, where one building – River Journey – features the world’s largest freshwater aquarium. “[It] tells the story of a river’s journey as a drop of water in the Appalachian cove forest all the way to the Gulf of Mexico,” says Cindy Todd, marketing director. A second building, Ocean Journey, includes a coral reef, rain forest, butterfly garden and Shark Island, where visitors can touch harmless sharks and stingrays.

Other Chattanooga jewels include the Creative Discovery Museum, the Siskin Museum of Religious Artifacts and the Chattanooga African-American History Museum. Also available are museums dedicated to such other subjects as decorative arts, model railroading and tow trucks, as well as the Chattanooga Zoo, Chattanooga Nature Center, and Reflection Riding Arboretum & Botanical Garden.

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