After over 30 years of operation, the National Knife Museum (NKM) is “being dissolved.” However, the old museum’s knife inventory will carry on at three separate museums, according to Lisa Sebenick, president of the National Knife Collectors Association (NKCA) and secretary of the NKM.
The only museum of its kind in the USA, the NKM had been housed on the mezzanine of Smoky Mountain Knife Works in Sevierville, Tennessee, since late 2006. The original rent for the space was all of $1 per year. “The officers, directors and staff of the National Knife Museum sincerely thank Smoky Mountain Knife Works and Kevin Pipes for giving our collection of cutlery a home these past seven years,” an NKM release stated.
According to Sebenick, the museum’s knife inventory will be donated to three different museums: the National Rifle Association Museum in Springfield, Missouri, the Berman Museum of World History in Anniston, Alabama, and the Janney Furnace Museum in Ohatchee, Alabama.
As for the 50 or so Bill Moran knives that were exhibited at the NKM, an official statement from the Moran Foundation was that no decision had been made for those knives at press time. At some future date, perhaps some of the Moran knives would be put on loan elsewhere.
The NKM was the vision of BLADE Magazine Cutlery Hall-Of-Fame member Jim Parker. Located in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the original museum was built in 1981 and was the creation of the NKCA as a separate, educational, non-profit corporation. It opened its doors in 1982. It was moved to Sevierville in 2006.
According to Pete Cohan in BLADE’s Guide to Knives & Their Values, 7th Edition, while many NKCA members were heavily involved in the original museum’s creation, it was the donation of three major individual knife collections—those of Cutlery Hall-Of-Famer Frank Forsyth, Dr. James Wilkison and Dr. William Rosenthal that created the foundation for a comprehensive museum display collection.
During its run at Smoky and in addition to the many other knives it exhibited, the NKM also included the custom knife collection of Cutlery Hall-Of-Famer Joe Drouin, a number of club knives from knife clubs around the country, various knife ephemera and more.