Tennessee State Museum's permanent exhibits and the history they tell

Lenny Schumacher

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Tennessee State Museum

NASHVILLE, TN — The Tennessee State Museum offers different kinds of exhibitions, from temporary to permanent.

If you missed the temporary exhibitions, you could still view the permanent exhibition, which offers a treasure trove of stories about Tennessee and its history.

1. Natural History.

In this exhibit, you will discover the origins of Tennessee’s landscape, including its diverse animals and plants. The presentations will also present how fossils can show how life was a long time ago.

2. First Peoples (13,000 BCE to 1760 CE)

This exhibit tells the story of the first people that arrived in Tennessee during the end of the Ice Age, how they lived, and their culture. It will also show the story of how the first Europeans encounter these natives and how the natives fought for their homelands.

3. Forging a Nation (1760 to 1860)

See the stories from Tennessee in this period through artifacts, films, and images. Discover how settlers move in the land and how the Southeastern Indians resisted. The exhibit also highlights the struggle and achievement of the enslaved and free people who build communities across the Three Grand Divisions.

4. Civil War and Reconstruction (1860-1870)

These two events were monumental times of conflict and change for the people of Tennessee. Discover artifacts and stories that documented the determination of Tennesseans to break away from the Union and how the state remained divided on the issue throughout the war. The exhibit will also highlight the African Americans as they seek freedom.

5. Change and Challenge (1870 to 1945)

Discover artifact documents about the changes that happened and learn how Tennessee found ways to get through economic upheavals, social changes, and international conflicts.

The exhibit highlights the African American that resisted segregation and disenfranchisement, and Tennessee women fought for the right to vote.

Learn how Tennesseans shared the nation’s challenges in World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II, and see historically significant artifacts such as World War I hero Alvin C. York’s Medal of Honor.

6. Tennessee Transforms (1945 to Present)

This exhibit will show how Tennesseans benefit from innovations in business, technology, and education after World War II. It will highlight the impact of post-war innovations, the struggle of African Americans in the new prosperity, the development of Tennessee’s musical industry, and how today’s Tennessee has emerged as a reflection of these dynamics.

7. Tennessee Time Tunnel

This exhibit allows you to enjoy content-rich artifacts, exhibitions, and stories from the entire permanent collection with an interactive experience.

To learn more about the permanent exhibition, please visit https://tnmuseum.org/permanent-exhibits.

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