Skip to Main Content

You’re Invited to “Pack the Wagon” at May 5 Tennessee State Museum Polk Center Closing Party

Wish the Museum Well as it Prepares to Move to its new building at Bicentennial Mall State Park
Monday, March 26, 2018 | 09:05am
Pack the Wagon Graphic

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — March 26, 2018 — One of the Tennessee State Museum’s most cherished and iconic artifacts is its 1860s Conestoga wagon, on display on Level D in the Museum’s current location. Displayed with the wagon is a game that invites visitors to “Pack the Wagon” for their trip to Tennessee by choosing what a settler family might take along with them. The Museum is now inviting the public to help “Pack the Wagon,” but instead of a hunting knife, seeds for crops, a plow, farm animals and other items essential in the 1800s, the Museum is asking for memories and good wishes to travel along with the wagon to its new home.

That’s the theme and goal of a free party the Museum will be throwing during its closing weekend, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 5. The Museum will be moving to its new location at Bicentennial Mall State Park in October, and in order to pack and move artifacts and offices, will need to close in its current location in the Polk Center. The Museum, which opened in 1937 in the War Memorial Building, has been in the Polk Center since 1981. The Museum will officially close at that location on Sunday, May 6 at 5 p.m.


“We know that an entire generation of Tennesseans has visited the State Museum in the Polk Center the last 37 years,” says Ashley Howell, executive director of the Tennessee State Museum. “This is a chance to celebrate all those memories made in this building – the school trips and special events and exhibitions – and send the Museum off to create new memories in a new building for a whole new generation.” 

Visitors to the Museum at the “Pack the Wagon” party will enjoy examples of the Museum’s heralded “Living History” programming, as staff members in the Public Programs department dress up and take on the roles of a Civil War soldier, a WWI Doughboy, a Longhunter, a frontier woman, a Woman Suffragist and more. There will also be a “Wishes & Memories” Post-it wall, where guests will be invited to share their wishes for the new Museum—what they want to see and experience—and their memories of the old location (favorite exhibitions, events and more). Visitors will have an opportunity to mail a postcard to themselves in the future, where they’ll share their own goals for the summer of 2018 and be notified when the new Museum opens. In addition to crafts, refreshments, entertainment, discounts at the Museum store and an opportunity to pick up old exhibit catalogs and posters, there will also be a “Selfie Station” in front of the Conestoga Wagon, where visitors can capture themselves getting ready for the journey. Hastags: #PacktheWagon and #NewTNMuseum are recommended for social media.

“It’s going be a party and a celebration,” says Rachel Helvering, community engagement manager at Tennessee State Museum. “It’s an opportunity for us to close the curtain on an extraordinary season for the Museum at the Polk Center and thank all of our visitors and supporters for joining us on this journey. Our next season at our new state-of-the-art building is going to be even more extraordinary. We can’t wait to move and get started.”

While the Tennessee State Museum will be closed through much of May and into October, the Museum’s Military Branch Museum in the War Memorial building will remain open. The Museum’s Public Programs staff will continue to offer tours of the
Tennessee State Capitol. Popular monthly Lunch & Learn lectures at various locations and trips to historical locations throughout the state will also continue. Information will be available on the Museum’s website at

About the Tennessee State Museum:

The Tennessee State Museum was established by law in 1937 “to bring together the various collections of articles, specimens, and relics now owned by the State under one divisional head,” and “to provide for a transfer of exhibits wherever they may be.” 

Today, the Tennessee State Museum is housed in the James K. Polk building indowntown Nashville, where it has been for 37 years. Gov. Bill Haslam proposed and the Tennessee General Assembly approved $120 million in the FY-2015-16 budget to build a new home for the Tennessee State Museum on the Bicentennial Mall to maximize the state’s rich history by creating a state-of-the-art educational asset and tourist attraction for the state. The governor also announced that $40 million would be raised in private funds for the project.

A 140,000 square foot facility is being built on the northwest corner of the Bicentennial Mall at the corner of Rosa Parks Boulevard and Jefferson Street to tell Tennessee’s story by showcasing one-of-a-kind artifacts, art and historical documents in an interactive and engaging way. More information on the museum can be found at

# # #

Making History PDF

Making History: The Tennessee State Museum

Get caught up on the history of the Tennessee State Museum before its big move with this downloadable four-page PDF

Tennessee State Museum
Ashley Howell, Executive Director

1000 Rosa L. Parks Blvd
Nashville, TN 37208
Department Logo