Is the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum in Gatlinburg Worth It?

salt and pepper shaker museum in gatlinburg tn

The Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum in Gatlinburg costs only $3 per ticket (photo by Amanda Lee/

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Ready to shake up your vacation or add a little spice to your day?

In the Smokies, there are several attractions along the Parkway competing for your attention and tourism dollars.

But the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum is not only unique to Gatlinburg. It claims to be the only salt and pepper shaker museum in the world.

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In which US city can you find a museum dedicated entirely to salt and pepper shakers?

That would be here in Gatlinburg, Tennessee! While they say they are the only museum of its kind in the world, they do have a sister museum in Spain. And, according to my Google skills, there appears to be one in Iowa, although it is at least temporarily closed.

Still, it’s safe to say that Gatlinburg’s Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum is one of only a handful of salt and pepper shaker set galleries that exist.

The Gatlinburg location features an amazing collection of over 20,000 shaker sets and 1,500 pepper mills from around the world. 

Understandably, it’s only natural at this point for the average non-shaker-aficionado to roll their eyes and ask, “but why?”

What’s so great about a salt and pepper shaker museum?

Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum owner Andrea Ludden is an archaeologist by training. Surprisingly, her collection began with a simple search for the perfect pepper mill for her kitchen.

Later, the collection burgeoned as she became fascinated with the history of salt and pepper shakers.

Ludden was struck by the variety available and became fascinated by the cultural significance many held. In fact, just like a historical artifact found at a dig site, these collector’s items tell a story of the era in which they were created. 

The museum, opened by Andrea and her husband Rolf after their move from Texas to East Tennessee, features sets organized chronologically, beginning with the vintage shakers from the 1800s.

So, when you come to the museum, you’ll learn interesting facts and find shakers made of glass, tin, metal and even wood. 

As you move into the early 20th-century section, the shaker sets begin to feature more color and novelty shapes. 

Fast forward a few decades and you’ll notice the salt and pepper-shaker world went crazy in the 1950s.

In fact, any popular piece of pop culture or historical reference including a presidential themes section you can think of from “I Love Lucy” to Dwight D. Eisenhower is there, in the form of a shaker. 

The vast museum collection is a true labor of love.

Some themes seen at the museum seem more abundant than others. I guesstimate at least 200 sets featuring various forms of corn alone. 

The vegetable collection isn’t limited to just corn. There’s also a plethora of themed vegetables in miniature works of art: Cauliflower, broccoli, beans, peas and all kinds of peppers.

I’m pretty sure I even saw a set of artichokes. 

a large display of corn salt and pepper sharkers on shelves
A small sampling of the “corn” themed sets of shakers at the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum in Gatlinburg (photo by Amanda Lee/

Do people collect salt and pepper shakers?

Yes, people collect a lot of things and salt and pepper shaker sets are certainly one of them. Different shaker sets around the world can be worth a significant amount of money, depending on when they were made and with what materials.

While some might consider some items a little kitschy, no one can doubt the value and beauty of the shakers located in “the vault.”

Read Also: Best Mom and Pop Shops and Attractions in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg

Wait, the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum has a vault?

Yes, and the vault is located in the center of the museum. And this is where the REALLY valuable sets are housed.

The museum’s collection has antique shakers that sit among those made with precious metals and gems. Some look to be depression-era glass and some were made in occupied Japan. In truth, the stunning sets are actually an art form.

A beautiful pair of pearls made into tiny shakers caught my eye. 

The vault also houses shakers made by some of the world’s best china companies, including a very impressive assortment made by Royal Delft.

The second half of the museum is home to a more modern collection – representing shaker sets from recent decades.

This is when the collection becomes “cool” – at least to my younger family members, who originally wanted to wait in the car but were thrilled to see their favorite cartoon characters, superheroes and sports teams celebrated in their full-glory shaker form.

shelves of disney-themed salt and pepper shakes at a museum in gatlinburg
Shelves from the Disney collection at the Salt and Pepper Museum in Gatlinburg (photo by Amanda Lee/

Is visiting the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum worth it?

I think so, but it depends on your taste. I was born into a family of shaker enthusiasts. 

My mother began her collection with a set of ceramic lobster claws she found while on vacation with my dad in Rhode Island before I was born.

As the years passed, her collection would grow to over 5,000 shakers before we stopped counting.

I’ve spent years caring for, dusting, organizing, researching and pouring (shaker joke) over information about the pieces in my mother’s collection.

I’ve even gone to conventions and scoured eBay for her “must haves”.

Mom’s collection became a passion and is the archeology of her life. And the sets represent the places and the people she loved.

The curio cabinets, spread throughout my house with hardly room for another set, tell my family’s story. 

So this is why this vast collection of what some would call “knick-knacks” holds a special place in my heart.

Also, I was also really impressed by the visitor map. Non-collectors are asked to mark their hometown with a stick pin. Collectors, like myself, mark their location with a push pin. 

surfer cow salt and pepper shaker
“Cowabunga Dude” from the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum in Gatlinburg (photo by Amanda Lee/

What hotels are near the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum?

The museum is located at 461 Brookside Village Way, not far from the Parkway in Gatlinburg and close to the entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Some of the closest hotels include the Gatlinburg View Lodge or the Gatlinburg Mountain Inn, but you can’t go wrong with any of the hotels located along the strip.

Read Also: Gatlinburg Hotels on the Strip: 5 Best Options Ranked [2023]

How much does the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum cost?

The general admission fee is just $3 per adult. Children 12 and under are free. Also, dogs are allowed as long as they are well-behaved and on a leash.

Your $3 admission price can be used toward the purchase of any salt and pepper shaker set in the museum’s gift shop.

When is the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum open?

The museum is now open 10 am-4 pm, Monday through Saturday and 10 am-2 pm on Sundays. Hours are subject to change, so verify the hours as you plan your visit.

For example, hours may vary due to inclement weather, but the museum is great about posting last-minute closures on its Facebook page.

Visit for additional information. 

Have you been to this museum in downtown Gatlinburg TN? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!

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Morgan Overholt

Morgan is the founder Morgan Media LLC, a graphic design agency and the co-founder of LLC – a media company that specializes in regional travel sites.

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