Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Chasing Rainbows Museum - Dollywood (Sevierville), TN

A museum dedicated to the career of Dolly Parton may not seem like a terribly intellectual experience, but the Chasing Rainbows Museum is actually very inspirational and even educational. Elizabeth, Nathaniel, and Isabella visited the museum on a trip to Dollywood in Pigeon Forge. Of course, the museum has enough sequins to sink a battleship, and outfits that even Barbie wouldn’t be caught dead wearing, but there is also an incredibly inspiring story of a talented musician who has worked hard to reach astonishing goals, while seeking opportunities to give back to others along the way. Among the glittery gowns and heels are impressive displays of Dolly’s many awards, musical instruments, and handwritten lyrics that demonstrate her journey and may prove inspirational to visitors who have their own “rainbows” to chase. Elements of Dolly’s difficult but loving childhood are also proudly displayed, indicating both the long way she has come, and her unabashed delight in remembering her humble roots. Dolly’s educational and charitable efforts are also recognized (although I don’t think I’ve ever seen a tailor-made PhD. robe before; my regalia hangs from my shoulders like a tent, but not Dolly’s!). The Museum includes displays on Dolly’s work with the military, the park service (I don’t think I’ve ever seen a ranger uniform quite like that, either), and literacy, among others. Although the museum is a little dark (to protect the costumes) and the hours can be confusing, it is a nice stop for the family to take a break from concerts, roller coasters, and splash rides and learn about an impressive woman whose struggles and achievements, for which she gives glory to God, can inspire and delight. Though boys (see Nathaniel’s response) may not be as thrilled with some of the displays as girls are, the museum is appropriate for the whole family. It is interesting that in the display of film costumes and props, the title of one film was not prominently displayed as it would be offensive to many visitors.

The museum opened in 2002 and is located in the Adventures in Imagination section of the park

Bruce D. Robinson Design Group designed the museum.

Hours sometimes differ from regular park hours, and admission is included with park ticket. These prices vary as well. The park’s website has details.

From the historian’s (Michael’s) point of view: Michael did not get to visit this museum.

From the eight-year-old’s (Nathaniel’s) point of view: Nathaniel liked the awards and musical instruments very much. He was also very interested in Dolly’s tour bus, which is parked outside and is open to guests. The costumes and accessories really didn’t interest him, but he did like Dolly’s signature butterfly motif, since he recently kept a monarch butterfly through its transformation.

From the toddler’s (Isabella’s) point of view: The museum is very colorful and intriguing for the young visitor, and many items are on a good level for a person in a stroller. A free-ranging toddler, however, would probably have to be reined in, as the museum staff are very conscientious about protecting the items on display.