Some of these aren't technically museums, but they all (I believe) have at least a *bit* of museum-type exhibits. I've tried to stay at least within a two-hour drive of the tri-cities, some may be just a tad longer than 2 hours. Hope this helps!
I just remembered this today. If you're ever in the Sevierville area Smoky Mountain Knife Works has amazing exhibits. We spent about three hours exploring it. There are mounted/stuffed animals, dioramas, weapons from different cultures and eras, sports memoribilia....I'm trying to think of what all was there. lol It was SO cool.
that sounds really cool - most of these links are cool. i was just looking at them.
i should've specified that i was looking for "fine art." :) i've been looking around but everything is pretty much regional. which is cool too. i'm happy to have all these resources, so i thank you for that.
I hope no one will mind my contributing to this old thread with a couple of our favorites that weren't listed.
For fine art and regional art, in Abington there is the William King Museum. It is completely free and has three exhibit halls. Typically one hall will be regional folk arts on a theme (like banjos), one a local contemporary artist, and one will be fine arts like renaissance engravings on a theme. They rotate exhibits once a quarter so you can go every six months and see new things. It's on a hill and surrounded by outdoor art, some of which is OK for kids to climb on or play around. This is a really cool museum and Abington is also great since there are lots of very eclectic antiques and used book stores, coffee shops and interesting restaurants like the Starving Artists Cafe where there is nearly always a line.
And haven't been to this one yet, might go this week, but it just opened and is somewhat more commercial (and expensive) than the others, but it's a partial scale reproduction of the Titanic with various types of rooms in full scale reproduction.