Tennessee State Museum and Department of General Services Break Ground on Collection Storage Facility

65,000 square-foot facility to house the Museum’s expansive collection; create new opportunities for research and scholarship of the state’s history
Tuesday, April 25, 2023 | 08:47am
Rendering of Storage Facility (GHP Architects)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – April 25, 2023 – The Tennessee State Museum and State of Tennessee Real Estate Asset Management  Division (STREAM) of the Department of General Services broke ground yesterday on a 65,000 square-foot storage facility for the Museum’s collection of art and artifacts. Designed by Gobbell Hays Architects (GHP), the building will be constructed by T.W. Frierson and is expected to be completed in 18-22 months at a cost of $32.5 million. The facility, to be located off Ellington Parkway on state property near the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, will house approximately 140,000 artifacts from the Museum collection, most of which are currently stored in the James K. Polk Building.

“This storage facility marks a milestone in the State of Tennessee’s commitment to preserving and sharing its history,” said Ashley Howell, Tennessee State Museum executive director. “It will make the Museum’s collection more accessible for research and scholarship, and enable us to more efficiently mount new temporary exhibitions, rotate artifacts in our permanent exhibition, and loan objects to other institutions. Our future lies in preserving our past, and we look forward to protecting the state’s artifacts and their stories for that future.”

Joining Howell to offer comments at the groundbreaking were Jen Murphy, Assistant Commissioner of General Services; Peter Heimbach, Director of Special Projects in the Department of General Services; and State Senator Bo Watson, chairman of the Douglas Henry State Museum Commission.

“The journey to today's event has been a long-awaited one; we have had several twists and turns along our path,” said Murphy, referencing the March 2020 tornado that destroyed the originally planned building location of the storage facility. “Not only is this an honor but an exciting celebration for us to partner with our colleagues at the Tennessee State Museum and break ground on this brand-new, state-of-the-art storage facility that will safely and securely hold the State's precious
historical artifacts.”

“Because history is continually being made, we planned this facility to be expandable, and to work with the Museum as its collection grows,” said Heimbach, former state architect who in his current capacity as director of special projects also oversaw the construction of the Tennessee State Museum into its new home adjacent to Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park in 2018.

“Only a bunch of history buffs would come out the groundbreaking of a storage facility,” noted Senator Watson. “While the building in town is where we display things, how we take care of the things we have is equally, if not more, important. I would like to thank my colleague from the house, chairman Patsy Hazelwood, who is chairwomen of the finance committee, for working with us, and all the members of the General Assembly. To see this coming full circle – the Museum being built, the Library & Archives being built, and now this facility being built – is really the culmination of years of effort by many members. This is truly a monumental day for the Tennessee State Museum and the Douglas Henry State Museum Commission.”

In attendance were members of the Douglas Henry State Museum Commission, including past chairs Victor Ashe, former Mayor of Knoxville and United States ambassador to Poland, and Steve McDaniel, former Tennessee State representative; members of the Tennessee State Museum Foundation, including chairman Tom Smith; John Hull, deputy commissioner
of the State of Tennessee Department of General Services; Anne Pope, executive director of the Tennessee Arts Commission; Jamie Ritter, Tennessee State Librarian and Archivist; Jennifer Core, executive director of the Tennessee Historical Society; Patrick McIntyre, executive director of the Tennessee Historical Commission, and staff and representatives the Office of the State Architect, the State Building Commission, the Tennessee State Museum, STREAM and the Department of General Services.

About Tennessee State Museum

Now in its 86th year, the Tennessee State Museum, located on the corner of Rosa L Parks Blvd. and Jefferson Street at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, is home to 13,000 years of Tennessee art and history. Through six permanent exhibitions titled Natural History, First Peoples, Forging a Nation, The Civil War and Reconstruction, Change and Challenge and Tennessee Transforms, the Museum takes visitors on a journey – through artifacts, films, interactive displays, events and educational and digital programing – from the state’s geological beginnings to the present day. Additional temporary exhibitions explore significant periods and individuals in history, along with art and cultural movements. Currently on display through May 21, 2023 is A Better Life for Their Children, Julius Rosenwald, Booker T. Washington, and the
4, 978 Schools that Changed America. The Museum is free and open to the public Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. For more information on exhibitions and events, please visit TNMuseum.org.

Joe Pagetta
Director of Communications
(615) 741-5134