Tourism For Weirdos: Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum

During a recent visit to Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains, I stopped in the town of Gatlinburg.  It is one of the state’s biggest tourist town, as it borders the aforementioned national park, as well as a ski resort and numerous man made attractions.  I only had a couple of hours to see the sights, so I decided to stop at what was probably the quirkiest (and cheapest) museum in town: The Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum.

The museum was founded about 25 years ago, when curator Andrea Ludden purchased a pair of shakers at a garage sale in California.  She displayed them on her window, and for some reason people had assumed she was a collector.  Once neighbors started gifting other shakers to her, Ludden began to admire the creativity behind some of sets, and thus the collection was born.  What had begun with a few pairs has grown to a collection of over 20.000 salt and pepper shakers from different areas and various parts of the world.   Ludden runs the museum with her husband Rolf and daughter Andrea, who have organized all the shakers into distinct themes.  There really isn’t much else to say about the museum, so let’s go to the pictures!

Christmas shakers


Transportation, from cars to donkeys


No HM post is complete without cats

Even the Amish have their own display

A Stephen Colbert favorite

March of the Penguin (shakers)

Elongated animals. Very specific

International flavor

The Vault, where the most valuable shakers are stored

No local museum is complete without something from Tennessee’s favorite daughter


If you ever find yourself in Gatlinburg, this place is definitely worth a stop.  It shouldn’t take you more than half an hour to go through the exhibits, and admission is only $3 (which is also good towards any purchase in their gift shop).  At that point, it’s just a good deal.

About FRQ

Once ate an entire blueberry cobbler by accident
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15 Responses to Tourism For Weirdos: Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum

  1. I’m confused and intrigued by the elongated animal shaker phenomenon.

    • flanny says:

      It just seems like they’d take up so much room! You’d have to use them as a centerpiece or something.

      • And they just don’t seem functional. You’d have to hold them so the head was facing down so the salt/pepper would slide to the end, and then flip them over (because it looks like the holes are on the tops of their heads), and kind of shake them back and forth like a Shake Weight to get anything out! Which makes me think they’re meant to be decorative, and that doesn’t make it any less weird, because who wants to decorate with weirdly stretched-out ceramic animals?

        • flanny says:

          The holes on top of the head are the weirdest part. I’d imagine grabbing them by the tail and shaking them like you’re clubbing someone to death. (Mental note: write a murder mystery where someone is clubbed to death by an elongated cat salt shaker.)

  2. catweazle says:

    I’ve never seen a museum that looks so much like a highly organized Salvation Army!

  3. flanny says:

    I have pig salt & pepper shakers that I thought were pretty spiffy, but this museum has shown that I need to step up my game!

  4. I like that she got one set and then all of the sudden everyone gave her some. Like she got about the 3rd set and was like, “great, I guess this is a thing I’m doing now.” Like how when you’re a kid and your grandma or aunt learns that you like X and so they give you X-themed everything for the next decade until you’re a teenager and your mom has to politely tell them that you’re kind of over X.
    My X was cats. What’s your X?

    • Wallflower says:

      X = Elephants
      I was in college before I was able to say “You know, I still like elephants. I mean, they are really cool animals, but I don’t need to own any more elephant items.”

    • catweazle says:

      I don’t have my own X but my sister-in-law got nothing but duck-themed gifts for years when she was first dating my brother because they were living in California and we didn’t see her much. Now that we know her better we mostly get her Darth Vader themed gifts.

    • Sota says:

      My aunt has strawberries in her kitchen. I can’t remember a time when my mother didn’t say “Oh look at this cute strawberry blah blah blah! Wouldn’t Aunt S like that?!” Her kitchen is FULL of strawberry trinkets/dishes/clocks/etc etc etc.

  5. Commentatrix says:

    I wish I could time travel back to my high school senior class trip and buy a ticket to this bizzaro beauty of a museum instead of risking life and limb on that gd horse’s back!

  6. old man fatima says:

    My shakers are nsfw. They were an apt warming gift ages and ages ago and I love them more than nearly anything else I own, so I can get behind basing a museum around them. (the only photo I have of them includes some food, which I know you guys love)

  7. Casey says:

    This gives me great hope that any of us are only a few random gifts away from starting our own museums!

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