Dollywood Museums Remind Visitors to Dream Big
Most people probably don’t consider a trip to a theme park as an opportunity to broaden one’s horizons. But then again, Dollywood is much more than a “regular” theme park. Inside Dollywood, guests can find two museums designed to entertain and encourage them long after they return home.
To share the results of her decades of dreaming, and to inspire others to follow their own dreams, Dolly introduced Dollywood’s Adventures in Imagination area in 2002. The area includes a state-of-the-art museum called Chasing Rainbows, featuring interactive and behind-the-scenes collections, stories, and memorabilia from Dolly’s life and career.
Visitors see costumes from Dolly’s movie career including 9 to 5 and Straight Talk, as well as many of her lavishly sequined gowns worn during her countless concerts, award shows and special appearances. An entire case contains Dolly’s many awards, including Grammy, Country Music Association and People’s Choice Awards, as well as plaques commemorating gold and platinum records. In addition, a touching display features the original handwritten lyrics to some of her biggest hits.
Through special notes, pictures and keepsakes, guests are able to follow Dolly’s path from the mountains of East Tennessee to the grandest stages around the world.
Southern Gospel Music Museum and Hall of Fame
Located on Showstreet, near Dollywood’s entrance, the Southern Gospel Music Museum and Hall of Fame tells the story of a timeless genre of music, passed down from one generation to the next and steeped in the traditions of Sunday worship and all-night gospel singings. Southern gospel music traces its roots back more than 100 years when hymns rang from the many tiny churches that dotted the landscape of the Southeastern U.S. Soon, groups—often families—decided to share God’s word through gospel music. By doing so, the Southern gospel music industry was born. And, oh, how it has grown.
The Vaughan Radio Quartet, the Stamps All-Star Quartet, the Speer Family, the LeFeveres, the Blackwood Brothers, the Chuck Wagon Gang, the Rangers, the Sunshine Boys, the Happy Goodmans, the Statesmen, the Harmoneers, the Florida Boys, the Oak Ridge Quartet, the Weatherfords and the Rebels all laid a firm foundation for those who would follow. Today, such groups as the Gaither Vocal Band, the Martins, the Isaacs, and the McKameys still travel across the country and around the world sharing their musical ministries.
On April 17, 1999, Dollywood welcomed the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame and Museum. The 4,000-sq.-ft. facility serves not only as the industry’s headquarters, but also as a tribute to all who contributed to Southern gospel music’s success. More than 350 artifacts are displayed, representing more than 100 groups and individuals. The Hall of Fame pays tribute to 80 members with new honorees inducted annually.
It’s only fitting that the Southern Gospel Music Museum and Hall of Fame make its home at Dollywood. The granddaughter of a Pentecostal preacher, Dolly first sang in church. In 2010, Dolly received the Southern Gospel Music Association’s James D. Vaughan Impact Award. Gospel music has and always will hold a very special place in her heart. And, the Southern Gospel Music Museum and Hall of Fame has a very special place in her theme park, too.