Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts
Arts and crafts have always been a part of Gatlinburg's very identity, from the day-to-day culture and folkways of 19th-century survival to the sales of local crafts in the early 1900s that helped launch the Smokies tourism industry. For nearly 50 years, the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts has played a crucial role in carrying on those traditions by teaching them to new generations.
Located in downtown Gatlinburg across from Ripley's Aquarium and just minutes from Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Arrowmont offers a unique environment for quiet, creativity in the midst of this popular tourist town.
The school dates back to 1912, when it was known as the Pi Beta Phi Settlement School. The school provided education to a once-remote community where no formal schooling had been available. The children would express gratitude to the teachers by bringing them gifts of handmade wares created by their parents. These included weavings, baskets and woodcarvings created in the families’ secluded mountain cabins.
In 1926, the Arrowcraft Shop was opened to market the beautiful handicrafts of Appalachia. It was through the rich history of crafts in the region that the idea for craft classes at Arrowmont gained popularity and began to flourish. In 1945, the first summer craft workshops were taught with some 50 students in attendance.
The workshops were a success, and soon, enrollments increased, attracting students and faculty from around the world. With the growing success of the summer craft classes, the school’s name was changed to the 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 arts-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.
The public is welcome to visit the campus year ‘round and view artwork by local, national and international artists in the school's five galleries that offer a full schedule of changing exhibitions. Visitors can also attend evening presentations and visit the Artists-in-Residence studios.
The Marian Heard Library and Resource Center includes print and electronic materials for research and displays work from the School's permanent collection. The Artist Outfitters Store offers tools and supplies for students on campus and artists in the community.
In addition to the Arrowmont school, you can plan to have a crafty vacation by visiting the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community, the Summer and Fall Gatlinburg Craftsmen's Fairs, and special holiday craft shows held throughout the year at the Gatlinburg Convention Center.