‘Tennessee Furniture: Selections from the State Museum Collection’

Opens April 20.

New exhibit features more than 45 pieces from the Tennessee State Museum’s collection.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – April 4, 2024 – Tennessee Furniture: Selections from the Tennessee State Museum Collection opens at the Tennessee State Museum on Saturday, April 20, 2024. The exhibition celebrates the Museum’s vast furniture collection and explores the stories of the people and events connected to them. Tennessee Furniture features over 45 pieces of furniture and supporting artifacts ranging from the late 18th century to works by contemporary furniture makers.

Showcasing over 200 years of Tennessee history through the selected pieces, the exhibition will enlighten visitors on the traditions, lifestyles, and experiences of past Tennesseans. Within the last few decades, there has been increased interest in the study of Tennessee furniture. To develop this exhibit, the Museum’s curatorial team worked with scholars and professionals, including Tiffany Momon, PhD. (Assistant Professor of History at Sewanee, The University of the South; Founder of the Black Craftspeople Digital Archive), Tracey Parks (Independent Scholar), and Daniel K. Ackermann, PhD.(chief curator & director of Collections, Research and Archaeology at the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts).

“I am grateful to the scholars, collectors, and contemporary craftspeople who so graciously shared their expertise with us in creating this exhibition,” said Candice Candeto, Tennessee State Museum’s senior curator of fine art. “I think as a result of their contributions this exhibition has something for everyone and highlights the great opportunities Tennessee furniture presents for learning about Tennesseans, past and present.”

The exhibition invites visitors to think about furniture in new ways. It does so by emphasizing four distinct areas of interest:

Furniture In Action – This area looks at how furniture was used in the home. Pieces such as pie safes and sugar chests not only tell us about the storage and preparation of food but provide context on the social dynamics at the time.

Made By Hands – By looking at the materials, designs, and techniques of a craftsperson, pieces can be traced to specific communities which further contextualizes the different styles that emerge in Tennessee while also reflecting on migration into and out of the state.

Furniture Makers – In early Tennessee, a finished piece of furniture was usually the result of many hands, even when only the master cabinetmaker's name is recognized. This section of the exhibit takes a closer look at the business of furniture making, emphasizing the contributions of journeymen, laborers, and more.

Furniture As Art – This section explores the artistry in Tennessee furniture by looking at the craftsmanship and innovative designs of past and contemporary makers.

Tennessee Furniture aims to enrich the discussion of how furniture is a valuable channel to the stories of Tennessee’s past. With topics ranging from commerce, migration, artistry, health, and more, the exhibition offers something for all visitors. Candeto expresses that furniture can be an accessible way to interpret history if given the chance.

“I hope visitors who have not previously found furniture interesting can take away a new appreciation for both the artistry and historical significance of this medium,” she said. “This exhibition is driven by the human stories behind the objects, and I hope that resonates with visitors of all backgrounds and experiences.”

For more information visit: tnmuseum.org/tnfurniture.

About Tennessee State Museum

Celebrating its 87th Anniversary in 2024, the Tennessee State Museum, located on the corner

of Rosa L Parks Blvd. and Jefferson Street at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, is home to 13,000 years of Tennessee art and history. Through six permanent exhibitions titled Natural History, First Peoples, Forging a Nation, The Civil War and Reconstruction, Change and Challenge, and Tennessee Transforms, the Museum takes visitors on a journey – through artifacts, films, interactive displays, events, and educational and digital programming – from the state’s geological beginnings to the present day. Additional temporary exhibitions explore significant periods and individuals in history, along with art and cultural movements. The Museum is free and open to the public Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. For more information on exhibitions and events, please visit TNMuseum.org.