The Tennessee State Museum will commemorate the 225th anniversary of Tennessee’s statehood in 2021 with Tennessee at 225: Highlights from the Collection, a self-guided tour within the Museum’s galleries complemented by an online exhibition, showcasing 100 artifacts from the Museum’s collection across five key themes. Those themes – Art, Community, Innovation, Service, and Transformation – encompass artifacts within all the Museum’s current galleries, ranging from as early as the Paleolithic period to 2020. Together, they tell an expansive story about Tennessee, from its first peoples to the present day. The self-guided tour and online exhibition will be available beginning June 1, Tennessee Statehood Day, and run through May 31, 2022.
“With thousands of artifacts currently on exhibition, the 225th anniversary of Tennessee’s statehood provides an opportunity to assess the stories those artifacts tell, and offer physical and virtual visitors a unique way consider the many aspects of our history,” said Ashley Howell, executive director of the Tennessee State Museum.
Visitors to the Museum who wish to the explore the artifacts in person will be provided gallery guides at the visitor desk that will identify the items and locations in the Museum. Those accessing the exhibition online will be able to sort by theme, view images of artifacts, and read lengthier interpretations of the artifacts’ histories.
“The Tennessee at 225 responsive website will provide an opportunity for Tennesseans throughout the state, especially educators and students, to access the artifacts and history we’re highlighting,” adds Ms. Howell. “It will also allow visitors to galleries to further explore the artifacts at their leisure.”
The artifacts chosen for the tour were co-curated by Annabeth Hayes, curator of decorative arts, and Brigette Jones, curator of social history, who worked with the Museum’s curators, educators and exhibition staff to narrow down the objects and stories the Museum chose to showcase.
"With so many important objects on display at the State Museum, we collaborated with our colleagues to select objects that tell the stories of the many dynamic communities across all three Grand Divisions of Tennessee,” said Ms. Hayes and Ms. Jones in a joint statement. “Through this selection, we explore numerous contributions in the form of ideas, art, technology, and service that have created our state’s rich history and culture. These 100 objects tell the stories of both notable figures from Tennessee history, as well as people who might not be as well known to the larger public.”
Among the artifacts highlighted in each theme throughout the Museum are:
• The Thruston Tablet Pictoglyph, which dates to 1000-1450 CE and is one of the single most important discoveries of late prehistoric Indian art found in Tennessee
• An 1817 portrait of Andrew Jackson by Ralph E.W. Earl
• The “Lion” sculpture by William Edmondson that dates 1935-45
• A Mississippian culture period female human effigy dated to 1500-1350 CE
• Souvenir of Toqua, a 1819 painting by Felix Marie Ferdinand Storelli depicting the Cherokee settlement of Toqua
• A Blue Star Banner from World War I
• The Cherokee Phoenix and Indians Advocate newspaper (1831-34)
• A chair by furniture maker Richard Poyner (1860-80)
• A 1914 Marathon Motor Works automobile
• Check issued by the Republic of Texas on August 27, 1837 to the "Estate of D. Crockett," in the amount of $ 240.00, as compensation for his military service in the struggle for Texas independence from Mexico
• A badge belonging to Preston Irwin, USCT 1st Heavy Art. Regt., 5th Corps, Union Army (1864-66)
• Women Airforce Service Pilot uniform worn by Doris Tanner’s uniform (1941-45)
• A fossilized Mastadon mandible bone (15000 BCE - 10000 BCE, estimated, Paleolithic period)
• Laws of Tennessee, printed by George Roulstone in 1803
• A 13-star American flag dated to 1790-1810
The stories these 100 artifacts tell will be further explored through a variety of public programming and digital offerings throughout the length the tour, expected to run through May 31, 2022.