U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) announced yesterday that the U.S. Department of Interior has approved federal funding to complete the $4.3 million Joint Curatorial Collections Facility that will house more than 800,000 historical artifacts and archival records at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Construction could begin as early as this summer.
“This is great news for everyone who loves the Great Smoky Mountains, especially because the new center will honor families who once lived in the park,” Alexander said. “This was made possible only because of years of effort by dedicated park service employees and by the generosity of friends of the Smokies.”
The total cost for funding the facility is $4.3 million, with approximately $2.3 million coming from private donations. In addition to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, other federal park and recreation areas will be able to make use of the new joint facility, including the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Cumberland Gap National Historic Park and Obed Wild and Scenic River. These sites currently house artifacts and records in facilities that do not meet National Park Service standards for physical security, or environmental controls to protect them from mold, insects, and fire.
There is no word as to whether these artifacts will be on display to the public, which would truly be a shame if they weren't. When this was discussed a couple of years ago, a museum open to the public was not part of the plan. Lets hope the DOI and/or the NPS have a change of mind on this.