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The mission of the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center is to preserve, protect and promote the unique history and rich culture of the residents and Native Americans who inhabited the East Tennessee mountain communities that were incorporated into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and its surroundings.
Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center, located in the peaceful gateway community of Townsend, celebrates the history of East Tennessee and the Smoky Mountains and is dedicated to preserving the region’s unique culture. Through an assortment of artifacts dating from 3000 B.C. to the 1930’s, visitors catch a glimpse of Native American life and its pottery, hunting weapons, ceremonial dress, and masks representing the Cherokee seven clans. Visitors can learn about both Native American and Euro-American life through three-dimensional displays, interactive exhibits, media presentations and an historic village of authentic log cabins, cantilever barns, country church, wheelwright shop, underground still house, sawmill, grainery, smokehouse and more.
The Center, just ¾ mile from the west entrance to America’s most-visited national park - Great Smoky Mountains National Park -- includes two indoor galleries, auditorium, classrooms, museum store, 12 historic buildings, and a 500-seat covered amphitheater for teaching, storytelling, drama, dance and music events. Festivals, concerts, traveling exhibits, school tours and special events for children and adults are a significant part of the center’s annual calendar.