Tennessee State Museum | Tennessee Crossroads

We’re gonna kick off
this show with a tour of the new museum. The new Tennessee
State Museum, that is, which opened earlier in October. The museum has always been
dedicated to preserving objects that relate to the
political, cultural, and economic history of the state. Now it does so in a 137,000
square-foot facility. (upbeat guitar music) – [Dan Pomeroy] We have
such a rich opportunity to tell so many stories here. – [Joe] Dan Pomeroy knows
those stories better than most. And as senior curator of
the Tennessee State Museum, he’s eager to share them. – [Dan] This is a
wonderful change, an epic, and new direction, I think for the whole
state of Tennessee. Public history is so
important in this state, and hopefully,
this is going to be a crossroads for all that. – [Museum Guide] This is
actually the prosthetic leg of a soldier named
Robert Singleton. He was a Tennessean served on the Confederate
side during the war. – [Joe Elmore] For
more than 80 years, the Tennessee State Museum
has waited for a place to call its own. The awe-inspiring new
home was worth the wait. – In our former
location, due to space, our interpretation
ended about 1920. So, essentially, we’re
adding the last 100 years. We will continue to add. – [Joe Elmore] Released
from the confines of its previous location,
the museum offers visitors a much more extensive,
and intensive look at Tennessee history. As executive director
Ashley Howell explains. – [Ashley Howell] We
also have more technology in the exhibit to present
the information in the way that visitors want to learn. Some of us like to watch
TV shows for our content, and we have films, we
have interactive tables to be able to do
that with visitors. – [Joe Elmore] According
to education director Jeff Sellers, those
visitors are guaranteed to enjoy the new museum
regardless of age. – Come on in, guys,
and explore around. – [Jeff] This museum
is for all Tennesseans. Not just adults or young
adults, but even for the youngest Tennesseans. We have a new children’s gallery that the old museum never had, but this is like a children’s
museum within a museum. – [Woman] Hey, guys! – [Jeff Sellers] And we want
them to learn and engage with Tennessee’s
history and culture just as much as anybody. So this children’s
gallery will be filled with all kinds of activities, it has a huge interactive
map of Tennessee. It’s just an
opportunity for families to come and learn about, and
teach their children about the cultures and traditions
of our state too. (lively piano music) – [Joe Elmore] The span of
time covered is impressive. Transporting viewers
back to the formation of the earth itself. – [Dan] We began
at the beginning, four-and-a-half
billion years ago. We have a small gallery that
talks about the massive changes that took place, and how
it affected Tennessee, when you drive down the
interstate and you see all that limestone,
where did it come from? So, you’ll learn that. Then you move in to the
first people’s gallery, which is about Native
Americans coming here 15-20,000 years ago, and the various
cultures that they established. – [Museum Exhibit] Our
ancestors are able to go out and gather large amounts of
different kinds of plants, and fruits, and nuts. – And then the coming of the
Europeans as you move into the beginning of the
frontier era, and the first European settlers that
came in here in the 1760s. And the conflict that occurred
between the first peoples and the European settlers. And then the establishment
of Tennessee statehood, and what life was
like on the frontier. And we have some spectacular
artifacts, for example, from the Battle of Kings
Mountian in October 1780, which defeated and captured
an entire British army of 1,000 men. And we’ve got the sword that
surrendered the British force in that battle. We’ve got a wonderful
Conestoga wagon that is a signature
piece in terms of settlers coming into
the Tennessee country. We have a wonderful
dugout canoe, which we acquired
some years ago. There are only two dugout
canoes that have survived from Tennessee. So, you continue to walk
through Tennessee history, and this section that we’re
calling Forge of a Nation, when people like Andrew Jackson,
Davy Crockett, Sam Houston were pivotal in defining
what is democracy. Tennessee’s role in that period,
in establishing the meaning of America, just
can’t be overstated. – [Joe Elmore] While you’ll
find the proudest moments of Tennessee history on
display, the museum also deals directly with tragic
periods in our past. – [Dan] We tell the story
of Native Americans, we tell the story
of enslaved people. We do not shy away from
some of the hard truths. – [Ashley] I think
it’s important that
we present history, and that we can look
at it from all angles. And I think that we start
to think about that, and what would we have
done in that time? So, I think that’s an important
part of telling the story, and allows the visitors to
come to their own conclusions. – [Dan] And then you come into
the tragedy of the Civil War, when the union fell apart. When Tennessee itself
was divided between those who wanted to stay in the union, and those who favored secession. So you leave that section,
and then we go to one we call Change and Challenge, which is 1870-1945, and again, a time of
tremendous change. Women getting the right to
vote, and Tennessee being the pivotal state in
passing the 19th Amendment. Tennessee Transforms,
Tennessee 1945 to the present. And we’ve never been
able to do that before. – [Joe Elmore] Another new
capability is the ability to easily rotate exhibits, so there will always
be something new to capture your imagination. – [Dan] In the future, with
these small rotating galleries, we can change
exhibits constantly. We can put out new things
for people to come and see. – [Jeff] It’s just
a gift to Tennessee. This is Tennessee’s museum. No matter where you
live in our state, from Bristol to Memphis, you
have a museum, and this is it. This brings it to
life in so many ways. So, we’re excited to get
to share that with kids, with families, with adults,
and be a place for them to engage with their history. – [Ashley] This is a
museum that we can all be proud of. As a fellow Tennessean,
I’m very excited to tell these stories,
and share these stories, and it’s our history,
art, and culture, so come experience it.

4 thoughts on “Tennessee State Museum | Tennessee Crossroads

  1. A wonderful museum that helps me to hate white people more. At every turn there is something about how white Europeans enslaved and mistreated blacks for the mere fun of it. How white people hated the Indians and colonized this country. This museum taught me that if it weren’t for blacks the world would have ended years ago.

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