Skip to main content

Since its opening in 1992, more than 26 million people have visited the Tennessee Aquarium’s River Journey building.

Many nods to the rich history and heritage of the cultures that have arisen along the course of the Tennessee River are woven into the building’s exploration of the winding water path from the mountains to the sea. visitors venture into its galleries, the sounds of Appalachian music and folk art exhibits blend the region’s legacy of human activity with its rich natural history.

The public will have the opportunity to participate in an online auction on Thursday, May 19to own pieces from the Aquarium’s art collection that celebrates the natural anthropology of the Tennessee Valley.

The auction’s offerings represent a carefully curated selection of folk art from regional artisans and foreign artists. Millions of visitors from around the world have seen these pieces, which were once displayed at the Aquarium in a “Folk Art Wall” near the exit of the River Journey building.

These pieces showcase the creative spirit of exceptional folk artists and artisans from across the Tennessee River Valley. Thanks to skills and traditions passed down from generation to generation, the artists of the auctioned works have created pieces that reflect the deep and lasting bond between the valley and its inhabitants.

“The artists of this region were often self-taught. They were inspired by the river and the world around them,” says Keith Sanford, Aquarium President and CEO. “Each day, the Aquarium celebrates the life that thrives on the Tennessee River. This auction offers a chance to own works of art that show the resilience and imagination of the people who thrived on its banks.

The Aquarium’s folk art wall has been decommissioned as part of an extensive renovation project.

While some of the pieces in the collection have been selected for placement in office spaces within the Aquarium’s administration building, the bulk of these unique works of art will soon be available to the public.

“After carefully considering several options, we contracted with Clements Auctions to help the Aquarium sell these items as a special fundraiser to support our nonprofit mission,” Sanford says.

As one of the most respected auction houses for fine art and antiques, Clements Auctions will use its extensive network of buyers to reach an audience that already expresses great interest in many of these unique pieces. .

Notable artists in the collection include visual artists such as Bessie Harvey, Fred Webster and BF Perkins, as well as sculptors including Jerry Brown, JL Nipper and the Webb family of folk artists.

Auction items also include fabric works, such as baskets woven by Cherokee artisans, hand-forged tools and vessels, and a sample of instruments – such as antique guitars and banjos from famous manufacturers like Gibson – who defined sounds distinctly. Southern musical genres like Dixieland jazz, country and bluegrass.

The auction will take place on Thursday, May 19 at 7 p.m. (Eastern Time). A public preview will take place the same day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Bidders can register at www.ClementsAuctions.com.

The public can view a catalog of bidding items that can be viewed online or in person – by appointment – at the auction gallery located at 7022 Highway 153, Hixson, Tennessee.

For more information or questions regarding the auction, contact Clements by phone at 1-866-425-3636 or email info@ClementsAuctions.com.