Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials are hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the National Park Service Collections Preservation Center in Townsend, Tenn. on Friday, May 6 at 10 a.m. The ceremony will be followed by a public open house of the new facility from 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. In addition, the adjacent Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center is hosting an exhibit with artifacts on temporary loan from the Collections Preservation Center.
The new 14,000-square-foot facility will enable the National Park Service to properly care for over 418,000 artifacts and 1.3 million archival records from the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, Big South Fork National Recreation Area, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Obed Wild and Scenic River. The collections will be moved into the facility beginning later this year and contain a wide range of items including tools, clothing, pottery, furniture, household items, photographs, documents, and archaeological specimens dating back 8,000 years.
The new facility centralizes the care of artifacts in a conveniently located, climate-controlled space, while also providing research space where the materials can be studied by appointment. The preservation facility will not display artifacts or function as a museum. Staff will aid researchers, genealogists, historians, and students by scheduling research appointments at the facility where items can be carefully viewed and examined. Items may also be temporarily loaned to facilities, such as the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center, for display in public museum exhibits.
The National Park Service is honored to have congressional delegates, including Senator Lamar Alexander, in attendance on Friday to celebrate the opening of the facility. Representatives from the Friends of the Smokies, Great Smoky Mountains Association, Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center, and local community leaders will also be present, underscoring the importance of the private-public partnerships leading to the successful completion of the new facility.
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander will attend the ribbon cutting ceremony.
“This is not just a success story about preserving our cultural heritage, whose stories are told at these five national parks, it is also a testament about partnerships and what we can accomplish by bringing together public and private interests towards a great purpose,” said Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Cassius Cash.
Funding for the $4.2 million facility was provided through a National Park Service Line Item Construction project award along with a $1.9 million donation from the Friends of the Smokies and Great Smoky Mountains Association which accounted for nearly half of the total cost. The land for the facility was donated by Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center.
The new facility is located at 8440 State Hwy 73, Townsend, Tenn., adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center. For more information about the rich cultural and historical resources of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, please visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/historyculture/index.htm.