National Knife Museum
At one time this collection was in Chattanooga, exhibited in carefully labeled cases. In 2008 it moved into an upper balcony of the Smokey Mountain Knife Works, the self-proclaimed World's Largest Knife Store -- a tourist hotspot that doubtless gets the knives better exposure than they had before.
But along the way the display cases and labels vanished, leaving a mostly-unidentified mess of sharp and pointy things. Perhaps the thinking was that anyone who would visit knives in a World's Largest Knife Store would already know what they were looking at.
To us, most of it was a mystery, although we did recognize a wax dummy of General MacArthur, a NASA 25th anniversary survival machete, and a lethal-looking straight razor that, according to its tag, shaved President Franklin Roosevelt when he visited nearby Gatlinburg in 1935.
Chaos, however, is not necessarily bad. Visiting the National Knife Museum now may in fact be more satisfying than before -- precisely because it's inside the World's Largest Knife Store, which turns out to be a misnamed bazaar that sells everything from bins of fossils to an ancient Chinese temple bell ($6,500).
There are departments stocked with weapons and gear for zombie-hunters, fantasy LARPers, and Star Wars geeks. And, scattered among it all, are what appear to be random exhibits from the National Knife Museum, including a Rambo III knife and Schwarzenegger's knife and denim vest from Terminator II.
The dispersal makes you examine every part of the labyrinthine building, and pretty much guarantees that you'll miss something. And it gets you out of the balcony, which was hot as an oven on the afternoon that we visited.
The store is also populated with stuffed animals, since knives can be used to kill or at least skin them. Like the knife museum displays, the creatures pop up in odd places.
Our favorite, near the kitchenware department, was a stuffed bear and terrifying giant raccoon, set up to play Rocky Top at the push of a button.