Sunday, August 2, 2009 Maryann's Report
Hunter Museum of American Art
Carol and Maryann were happy to be back in Chattanooga, as they had promised themselves they would visit “the museum on the hill” when we returned. The Hunter Museum (http://www.huntermuseum.org/) is composed of 3 buildings (2 were open to the public) representing 100 years of architecture. They also have an outdoor sculpture garden. Since it was the first Sunday of the month, admission was FREE. The museum started as a renovated brick mansion, whose last owner was George Thomas Hunter, a famous philanthropist. Adjoining that is a modern building of steel and glass with sweeping lines. Both contain amazing collections of all kinds of art – paintings, sculptures, drawings, films, furniture, textiles, glass, etc in a diverse range of styles and periods from the 1700s to the present. Touring the museum was both enjoyable and educational – a treat for the senses! The outdoor sculpture garden included pieces ranging from incredible to humorous to beautiful. Carol is standing by a “driftwood” horse that is actually made of bronze! It had to be felt to be believed!
After Carol and Maryann spent hours touring the interior of the museum and walked through the sculpture garden, they came upon some plaques that related history of the area. The bluff-top setting of the museum was said to have been the sacred home of the mythical hawk-like giant known as “Tia-Numa.” Chattanooga was first known as Ross Landing; it was the site of a trading-post owned by John Ross, who was half Cherokee. After the U.S. appropriated that land from the Indians (and sent most of them to Oklahoma on the infamous Trail of Tears), the name was changed to Chattanooga in 1838. It was also discovered that an iron smelting plant had been erected on the bluff in 1854 by The East TN Iron Manufacturing Company. During the Civil War, the area was used as a lookout and a garrison by both Confederate and Union Forces. On November 11, 1860, the structural walls surrounding the blast furnace failed; the rupture caused the hearth contents to solidify into a mass that ironmaster call a salamander. This mass of iron and partially fused coke, slag and flux rendered the stack useless. Extensive repairs were never done. In the late 1970s, archeological excavations were done, revealing the remains of the blast furnace and its foundation.
As Carol and Maryann walked downhill to Dream Manor, they definitely felt enriched by their “mountaintop experience.”