The idea for a museum of education sprang from two long-time friends and colleagues two long-time friends and colleagues' inability to recall details of events and people during their careers as educators in Knox County Schools back to the 1950s.
Seeking information, Benna van Vuuren and Beecher Clapp soon discovered that there was not one source or collection of information available to answer their questions. Their concern about preserving the rich history of education led to the idea for the museum in May of 2005.
Former Superintendent Earl Hoffmeister suggested that Ms. van Vuuren call Sue Boyer, a supervisor in the Knox County Schools System. The two then conferred with Roy Mullins, then Administrative Assistant to Dr. Charles Lindsey. Mr. Mullins enthusiastically endorsed the idea and the museum became a reality when the doors opened for the first time on September 20th, 2006 in the Historic Knoxville High.
First named the "Knox County Schools Museum of Educational History," the name was later modified to reflect the broader interest in all education in Knox County, including the former Knoxville City Schools, private schools, and schools that were established prior to the organization of public education. The museum moved to its present location in the Sarah Simpson Professional Building in 2013.
Now called the "Knox County Museum of Education," the museum seeks to not only display collections of materials but to research and document the many events, trends, and changes that have affected education in the county.
Educators are encouraged to contribute to the museum collection and the historical narratives as well. As Ms. van Vuuren so aptly puts it, "Don't throw away tomorrow's history."
- To maintain and support the Knox County Museum of Education
- To facilitate historical research and professional development by collecting, preserving, organizing, and making accessible the history of education, schools, educators and support organizations in Knoxville and Knox County
- To collect and preserve the history of the Boards of Education
- To generate a collection of interviews with educational leaders
- to locate a permanent suitable facility for the museum holdings that will allow expansion
- To seek funding for endowments to continue the museum's future