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Oak Ridge, TN is Rich with Arts and Culture

Diverse cultural experiences give Oak Ridge an artsy vibe

By Jessica Walker Boehm on September 28, 2015

Oak Ridge
RF Welton

Museums, art galleries, live performances and annual events make Oak Ridge, TN a top destination for arts and culture.


The Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge, offers kids hands-on learning opportunities emphasizing science, art and history. In addition to the museum’s many exhibits, such as a simulated Amazon rainforest, children can enjoy classes, camps, workshops and an after-school club. Each February, the museum presents its International Festival, where attendees learn about cultures throughout the world.

At the American Museum of Science & Energy, visitors discover permanent exhibits like the World of the Atom and Earth’s Energy Resources, as well as temporary installations showcasing scientific discoveries, art and more. The Southern Appalachia Railway Museum, based in nearby Knoxville, collects historical railroad equipment and offers rides aboard the Secret City Scenic excursion train that departs from Oak Ridge’s Heritage Center.

Visual Art

The Oak Ridge Art Center features a permanent collection of primarily European abstract expressionist works from international and national artists, as well as temporary galleries that typically include exhibitions from local and regional artists. In addition, the center offers classes and workshops in painting, drawing, jewelry making, pottery and other mediums.

At the Locally Grown Artists Gallery, visitors can see and purchase works created by the co-op’s more than 35 artists and craftsmen. The gallery includes wood carvings, embroidery, glassware, fiber art, jewelry, pottery, paintings and photography.

Performing Arts

The Oak Ridge Civic Ballet Association dancers perform in productions like The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake. The organization also hosts a summer camp for aspiring dancers as young as age 5.

The Oak Ridge Civic Music Association hosts three concert series annually – the Oak Ridge Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, the Chamber Music Series and free Coffee Concerts.

Meanwhile, Sound Company Children’s Choir of Oak Ridge, a show choir of more than 100 students in grades 1 – 12 from schools throughout the area, performs music from a wide variety of genres.

The Oak Ridge Playhouse showcases live plays and musicals such as The Adventures of Nate the Great, Urinetown and A Christmas Story, and the Junior Playhouse offers both programming for young audiences as well as hands-on opportunities for young actors and technicians. The Junior Playhouse has presented performances for more than 50 years and sometimes works with the Mainstage on large-scale productions.


With the goal of promoting Oak Ridge’s history, the Secret City Festival, now known as Celebrate Oak Ridge, features historical presentations and reenactments, an arts and crafts show, concerts, kids’ activities and more.

The Taste of Anderson County event, which includes food from area restaurants and live entertainment in Jackson Square, raises funds for local organizations. Also held in Jackson Square, the Lavender Festival celebrates health, herbs and the environment with a luncheon, live music, educational presentations and local vendors.

The city also comes together annually at A.K. Bissell Park for a July 4th fireworks display.

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