Curatorial Facility Proposed for Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Four Other Park Service Units

One facility, nearly 1 million artifacts and records, five units of the National Park System. That's a short overview of a proposed curatorial facility that would be located in Townsend, Tennessee, not far from Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The slightly bigger story is that the facility would provide a much-needed repository for some 422,000 historical artifacts, such as prehistoric projectile points, logging-era equipment, vintage weapons, clothing, farm implements, tools and other possessions that would have been found on the farmsteads of the Southern Appalachians in pre-park days. The archival collections number about 450,000 and include such things as land records, oral histories, historic photos, and park operating records.

Great Smoky managers currently are floating an environmental assessment on the project for public comment. The need for such a facility exists, they say, because the artifacts and archival records currently "are scattered among numerous sites in sites that do not meet National Park Service standards for physical security, or environmental controls of the temperature and humidity that are essential to protect the items from mold, insects, and fire."

"The proposed new facility would house all these irreplaceable materials in a central location which meets all the criteria for their long-term preservation," they added in a news release.

A design for the 13,000-square-foot Joint Curatorial Collection Facility currently is in the works. The facility is proposed to be located on 1.6 acres owned by the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center in Townsend. The property, though, would be donated to the Park Service for the facility.

Items that would be stored in the facility would come not only from the Smokies, but from Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, and Obed Wild and Scenic River. Consolidating the collections of all the Park Service areas with the Smokies’ materials would both ensure their protection and also allow for a single Museum Curator to oversee all the collections.

You can find a copy of the environmental assessment prepared for the project on this page. Comments are being taken through August 26.