Expanded version of Higher Ground to open for First Friday

Jay FitzOur Town Arts

Higher Ground: A Century of the Visual Arts in East Tennessee, the Knoxville Museum of Art’s flagship permanent exhibition, has been completely reimagined, expanded and relocated to newly renovated galleries. The new installation opens at 10 a.m. on Friday, November 3, 2023, with the public invited to a special opening celebration and reception from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Cash bar.

Higher Ground first opened in 2008 as a tangible expression of the KMA’s mission “to celebrate East Tennessee’s rich, diverse visual culture.” In the years since, understanding of the development of the visual arts in Knoxville and its environs has grown dramatically, as has the museum’s collection of works by artists from or connected to the region.

The enlarged and enhanced Higher Ground presents a fuller and more detailed picture of an important phase of our region’s development and supports the proposition that Knoxville and its Appalachian environs are far more culturally sophisticated, diverse, nuanced and connected – in short, more interesting – than many people assume.

KMA Executive Director David Butler called the reopening “a big milestone in the museum’s history.” He said the exhibit has been “enthusiastically embraced by our community, who can see themselves represented in it.”

Portrait of James Baldwin by Beauford Delaney, 1944. (All Beauford Delaney images © The Estate of Beauford Delaney by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Administrator.)

Higher Ground is accompanied by a book-length, color-illustrated catalog published by the University of Tennessee Press, and features cell-phone audio tours in English and Spanish (with a special edition for vision-impaired visitors) and a video tour in American Sign Language.

Normal operating hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday, 1-5 p.m. The KMA will be closed on Saturdays, Nov. 4, 18 and 25, due to the University of Tennessee home games.

Sarah Kaplan of Knoxville Museum of Art contributed information for this story.


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