A Look Back

Muse Knoxville’s history is richly steeped in community efforts to create important educational opportunities for children and the adults that love them.

  • 1960

    Student’s Museum, Inc. is chartered by Knoxville Junior Academy of Science and the Akima Club at the American Legion Building, 704 State Street. The Student’s Museum is built to house scientific exhibits geared to a youngster’s mind, to make them more aware of their surroundings and more appreciative of adult museums.

  • 1969

    Student’s Museum is officially granted 501(c)3 non-profit status.

  • 1976

    New Student’s Museum opens adjacent to Knoxville Zoological Park at the current Beaman Street location. The new space includes an exhibition space, TV production facilities, offices, a student work area, and a new two-story Planetarium. A planetarium is primarily built with a donation from the Akima Club.

  • 1987

    Student’s Museum changes its name to East Tennessee Discovery Center.

  • 2011

    The M.U.S.E. of Knoxville is chartered with the goal to create transformative learning experiences for all children in the Knoxville region.

  • 2013

    On August 29th, The M.U.S.E. of Knoxville and East Tennessee Discovery Center vote to merge non-profit organizations. The Muse Knoxville becomes the name of the newly merged organization with a mission to inspire and empower generations at the intersection of science and art. Efforts have begun to update the museum spaces and add outdoor play spaces under the new leadership of Ellie Kittrell, Founder and Executive Director of The Muse Knoxville.

  • 2014

    On November 14th The Muse Knoxville, in partnership with BCBS of TN Health Foundation, the City of Knoxville and KaBOOM! open a new outdoor playground within Chilhowee Park. The Muse Knoxville hosts its inaugural Muse For All Luncheon Fundraiser event to gain support for its mission and vision. With the corporate support of Clayton Homes, The Muse Knoxville is able to scholarship STEAM outreach lessons for local area schools.

  • 2015

    The Muse Knoxville expands its Muse For All initiative to remove barriers for families through subsidized field trips and outreach programs and create Family Fun Days for underserved communities.

  • 2016

    Two new exhibits open called LIVE SMART: Stay Well! and STEAM Station with public and private funding support. The Muse Knoxville launches Family Access Pass memberships, allowing families on any form of government assistance to receive low-cost access to the museum year-round.

  • 2017

    The Muse Knoxville collaborates to launch the first state-wide science festival, the Tennessee STEAM Festival and opens the Outdoor Musical Garden sponsored by US Bank Foundation. A new 3-year strategic plan begins, including rewriting The Muse Knoxville mission, creating a vision statement, and guiding core values. The Muse Knoxville established a disability-based workforce program called Ambassadors that focuses on employable skills and individualized plans for local area young adults.

  • 2018

    USS Muse Planetary Explorer launches, marking a significant update of the Discovery Space Shuttle. The Muse Knoxville purchased a new Mobile Planetarium with proceeds from the sale of Eclipse Glasses from the Solar Eclipse in August 2017. On September 18th, The Muse Knoxville officially cut the ribbon to open A-Mazing Airways and a new tools-based MakeSpace.

  • 2019

    The Muse Knoxville experiences significant flooding in the Planetarium and outdoor sections of the Chilhowee Park museum. In April, Muse at the Mall opened as a satellite location to expand the number of families we serve. The organization name and logo changed to Muse Knoxville to represent a multi-location brand.​

  • 2020

    Covid-19 halts Muse Knoxville. The Muse at the Mall satellite location closes, and all efforts are focused on the original location in Chilhowee Park. Public and private funding is secured to create a new outdoor interactive play area called Space PLAYce and an indoor calming sensory exhibit zone called Illumination Station. To increase safe play-based STEAM experiences for families at home, Muse Knoxville creates Amusements Kits. After closing the doors for nearly seven months, in August of 2020, Muse Knoxville launched Learning Pods — a Covid response to families needing childcare for elementary-aged virtual learners in Knox County Schools.

  • 2021

    On June 1st, Muse Knoxville reopens to regular operational hours with the launch of an annual summer-long “pop-up play” outdoor programming event, Muse Pop. Muse also launches the Muse Apprenticeship Program that serves the Austin-East and Fulton High School communities, creating paid opportunities for youth in our area to gain confidence in career-based skills and decisions and increase their upward economic mobility. Also, in 2021, Muse Knoxville created its first Belonging Executive Leadership position to improve racial and social justice, inclusion, and diversity-based initiatives. Ellie Kittrell resigns as Executive Director, and the current Director of Belonging, Allison Comer, takes on the role.

  • 2022

    Muse Knoxville secures public funding to create a new outdoor sustainability and pollinator-based exhibit space called We Bee-long. Design work and exhibit development take place all year. Muse Knoxville drastically increases its camp offerings to provide more high-quality childcare opportunities for families in East Knoxville. Private funding is secured to begin the development of a new and improved Healthy Kids Clinic to include mindfulness and mental health, as well as to host culturally relevant parent support groups.

  • 2023

    Muse Knoxville cut a ribbon on two new exhibits: an outdoor We Beelong space and a larger, reimagined Healthy Kids Clinic indoors. New programs were piloted, such as nonclinical culturally relevant parenting sessions, and Muse After Dark events were restructured to include attendees of all ages. Muse also celebrated its 10th birthday on August 29th.

  • 2024

    Stay tuned for exciting new experiences, such as a new Tech Play exhibit and so much more!


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Cancellations for a full refund minus a $50 cancellation fee will be allowed until 30 days prior to the registered week of camp.

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