Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center, Townsend

4.5
#9 of 24 in Things to do in Townsend
The Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center is a private non-profit museum located in Townsend, Tennessee, United States, near the city's entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Its mission is to preserve the heritage and culture of the inhabitants of the Great Smoky Mountains, including both the region's Native American inhabitants and the pioneers and residents of the region's Appalachian communities. The center was organized in the early 2000s, and officially opened in February 2006.The center houses over 17000sqft of indoor and outdoor exhibits. The outdoor area includes several structures from around the region, including a log cabin, two cantilever barns, an AME Zion chapel, a logging town "setoff" house, a sawmill, and a still once operated by a local moonshiner. The indoor gallery displays tools, furniture and musical instruments used in the mountain region, as well as a sizable collection of Cherokee and other Native American artifacts, some dating to the Archaic period (c. 8000–2000 B.C.).HistoryThe Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center was conceptualized in the early 2000s by local preservationist and antique collector Richard Way. Early organizational efforts were led by Bob Patterson and several Townsend-area civic organizations. The Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center Guild hosted fundraisers for the proposed center in 2004 and 2005. Ground for the new center was broken in the Summer of 2004. The center officially opened February 12, 2006.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
187 reviews
Google
4.5
TripAdvisor
  • July 29, 2017
    We stopped here one day as we were riding through. We were just looking for differ things to do(something new we'd never done on our visits to the smokies). It really surprised me once we got in the m...  more »
  • July 23, 2017
    I visited last year and was pleased to see this year that they continues to add new exhibits and now concerts. This is a great center to visit and is such a bargain, it should not be missed. Lots of f...  more »
  • June 21, 2017
    We watched Blue Mother Tupelo there and they really put on a great show. The atmosphere is so down-home and comfortable, we loved it. Watched the sun sink below the mountains, listening to some mellow...  more »
Google
  • June 22, 2017
    What a neat place! It was interesting to see how different cultures evolved in the area. Nice clean bathrooms for a quick pit stop. Nice gift shop. Pleasant employees.
  • May 23, 2017
    The Great Smokey Mountains Heritage Center (GSMHC) serves multiple functions for East Tennessee and Great Smokey Mountains National Park (GSMNP) area. It is a museum dedicated to honoring those early settlers and inhabitants of the Great Smoky Mountain region; including the earliest settlers, the Native Americans. It is a destination for area schools for their field trips. A dedicated group of volunteers make each student’s visit a real day to remember. It is also a community center for concerts and academic presentations for Townsend. It seems to be a great source of pride for the entire area.
  • July 4, 2017
    It gives basic information about the local Indian culture and also about how early settlers.
  • September 12, 2016
    Heritage Center is wonderful and full of local information, and displays of local talent and history of the area. Do visit all the buildings, quite a history lesson to visualize. Currently having the fall concert series with music at 7pm on Friday nights. Great groups, all different. Come early and bring a chair.
  • July 6, 2017
    Great family venue for all ages.

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Where to stay in Townsend

You'll find limited accommodation options in the tiny town of Townsend. You have the choice of a few privately owned bed and breakfasts, which offer a good selection of amenities including fitness facilities, cable TV, free Wi-Fi, in-room fireplaces, steam showers, and hot tubs. For a more outdoorsy experience of the Great Smoky Mountains, research the area's tent and trailer campgrounds; many provide hookups for both cable TV and high-speed Internet.
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