Something as common as an everyday basket represents a classic example of the true artistry and craftsmanship of the rural and mountain people of Southern Appalachia. The basket makers of our region are recognized as some of the very best, and the works of many are displayed here.
In Southern Appalachia, the basket served so many purposes that its importance is truly inestimable. Here, you’ll discover baskets used by our ancestors for any number of practices; it was essential for gathering food, picking tobacco, as well as the storage for any number of items, from cotton to laundry. Baskets featured here provide insight into the many varied uses for this important item.
The exhibit also features a number of “novelty” baskets. Prominently displayed is “the World’s Largest Basket,” crafted over the course of nine months by Russ and Nancy Rose. This item is 200,000 times larger than the tiny, quarter-size basket made by George McCollum. These miniature, toy, and keepsake baskets served little purpose, but helped to fill what may have been a void in the stark lives of people living in isolated and pioneer conditions.
Our exhibit features hundreds of baskets, many of which are accompanied by photographs that detail every step in the creation process—from the time the tree was cut, until the product was completed.
In addition, there are biographical sketches of several old-time basket makers, who received scant remuneration and little recognition for their years of toil, creating one of the most useful and artistic possessions in the lives of our people in Southern Appalachia.
Most of all, you will find this exhibit to be a warm, personal account of these mountain people and their love, care of, and dependence upon their baskets.