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Explore Series: Hunter Art Museum


In this Explore Series post, we'll explore the rich history that encompasses Hunter Museum of American Art and its unique location, including the historic mansion and modern architectural additions.
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Photos: Signal Creative (sculpture closeup) and Laura Freeman.

Cliff Location:

The Hunter Museum of American Art is renowned for its stunning location perched on a 90-foot bluff overlooking the Tennessee River. This dramatic setting provides visitors with breathtaking panoramic views of the river and the surrounding landscape. The museum’s location on the bluff adds to its allure and makes it a distinctive landmark in Chattanooga.

Old Mansion:

The museum’s roots can be traced back to the early 20th century when it was originally known as the Hunter Art Gallery. It was established in 1952 by George Thomas Hunter, Jr. and his wife, Alice E. Smith Hunter. The core of the museum is a historic mansion called the “Hunter Mansion,” which was the couple’s former home. This mansion was designed by architect Harrison Gill and completed in 1904. The neoclassical-style mansion itself is a work of art, with its elegant architecture and period furnishings. It houses a portion of the museum’s permanent collection and serves as a reminder of the museum’s historic beginnings.

Current Exhibition (Sept 22 - January 8)
Gilded: Contemporary Artists Explore Value And Worth

Artist: Nicholas Galanin (b. 1979), Title: Let Them Enter Dancing and Showing Their Faces: Knowledge
Artist: Titus Kaphar (b. 1976), Title: Jerome XLII, XLIII, XLVIII, XLIX
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New Architecture:

In recent years, the Hunter Museum has undergone significant expansions and renovations to accommodate its growing collection and enhance its visitor experience. One of the most notable additions to the museum is the contemporary structure known as the “Hunter Museum Expansion,” designed by renowned architect Randall Stout. This architectural masterpiece was completed in 2005 and provides a striking contrast to the historic mansion. The expansion features cutting-edge design elements, including glass walls that offer breathtaking views of the Tennessee River and the surrounding landscape. It houses contemporary and temporary exhibitions, providing a dynamic juxtaposition to the historic mansion.

The Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga boasts a captivating history that includes its iconic location on a cliff overlooking the Tennessee River and Walnut Street Walking Bridge, its historic mansion, and its modern architectural additions. Visitors can experience a blend of old-world charm and contemporary art in this cultural gem on the bluff.