Arts & Culture

The McMinn County region has a rich historic culture and many talented artists.  The Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association is charged with promoting and preserving the natural and cultural resources of McMinn along with neighboring counties of Monroe and Polk through a cultural tourism program.  Some of the information provided on this section is compliments of the Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association.  

The Arts

The Arts Center – Athens Area Council for the Arts - Located in the City of Athens, McMinn County, the mission of The Arts Center is to enrich the quality of life and make a difference for our community by providing opportunities for the expression and appreciation of

the arts.   The Arts Center provides arts and music classes, art exhibits, The Arts Market for local and regional artists to display and sell their work, and The Black Box Theatre where live musical and theatrical performance occur on a regular basis.  The Arts Center also offers a program, Arts and Education for Area Schools, to do master classes and short and long-term residencies in poetry, dance, choral and instrumental music, voice, piano, visual arts, pottery, theater arts, and more. 

The Etowah Arts Commission has a mission to sponsor and encourage cultural and educational activities in the City of Etowah and surrounding areas.  The Commission sponsors arts and cultural classes and events at The Gem Theatre in downtown Etowah.


McMinn Living Heritage Museum – Explore three (3) floors of exhibit areas that trace the history of McMinn County, from the Cherokee Indians and early settlers through the 1940s.  Exhibits include an impressive collection of valuable and rare glassware and showcases our McMinn County’s industrial heritage.

Etowah Depot Railroad Museum – The City of Etowah was created by the Louisville & Nashville (L&N) Railroad in 1906 to serve as a planned community for its workers as well as headquarters for the Atlanta Division of the L&N Railroad System.  The Depot is a two-story Victorian railroad station and was the first building erected in the town.  Downstairs exhibits tell the story of the town and its relationship with the railroad.  An upstairs gallery offers changing exhibits.  Visitors can look out the upstairs windows and watch train switching in a still active rail yard.  Home to the Hiwassee River Rail Adventure, a train excursion ticket office is also located in the building.   The front lawn is home to scores of community festivals including the “Old Fashion Fourth of July Celebration.  The depot is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (photo courtesy of Durant Tullock) 


The Gem TheatreLocated downtown in the City of Etowah, McMinn County, The Gem Theatre is a historic 1927 built theatre that offers musical and theatrical shows throughout the year.  Home of the “Annual Cousin Jack Memorial Bluegrass Festival,” that takes place in March of every year.  The festival is in memory of Jake Tullock, Etowah native, who played bass with Flatt and Scruggs for 20 years.  The Gem has its own resident theatre company, The Gem Players, who offer live performances throughout the year. 


The Movie Palace – Athens 5 Cinemas

One of the BEST Movie and Entertainment Theaters in Eastern Tennessee.  Check out their website for movie selections and showing times.

The Swingin’ Midway Drive-In Theatre

McMinn County’s only Drive-In Theatre.  Enjoy the nostalgia from the drive-in theatres of the past with first run movies with digital sound and picture.

McMinn County Economic Development Agency - make it in Mcminn