Tucked away on a wooded hillside in the heart of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, just minutes from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Arrowmont offers a unique environment–a creative oasis amidst the bustle of a popular tourist destination. Our history dates back to 1912 when we began as the Pi Beta Phi Settlement School. The School provided education to a once remote community where no formal schooling had been available, and was also the site of the first medical clinic in the area. Settlement School children expressed gratitude to the teachers by bringing them gifts of handmade wares made by their parents-weavings, baskets and woodcarvings.
In 1926, Arrowcraft Shop was opened to market the beautiful crafts of the Appalachian people. It was through the rich history of crafts in the region that the idea of craft classes at Arrowmont would gain popularity and begin to flourish. In 1945, the first summer craft workshops were taught with some 50 students in attendance, under guidance of faculty from the University of Tennessee.
The workshops were a success and soon enrollments increased, attracting students and faculty world wide. With the growing success of the summer craft classes, the School’s name was changed to Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts and provisions were made to build a new studio complex in 1967.
Today Arrowmont is an internationally recognized visual art education center, providing creative experiences year-round with weekend, one- and two-week workshops from March through November. The School also serves as a cultural center in the community offering adult and children’s community classes; an active juried, themed and invitational exhibition schedule; and annual art conferences and symposia. Our ArtReach and other children’s programs impact 1,500 local school children throughout the year. Our mission of enriching lives through art is the foundation from which all of our high quality educational programs grow and flourish.
Arrowmont has a long and storied history of educating everyone from local residents just beginning to work with crafts to established artists from all across the world. Thanks to a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Arrowmont’s rich history has been preserved in digital format with fully searchable archival materials including letters, diaries, photographs, and scrapbooks. These items come together to tell the compelling story of Arrowmont’s growth through the years in a way that no simple timeline or essay could. To view the complete collection, please visit www.lib.utk.edu/arrowmont.