There's been a museum on the campus of East Tennessee State University since the 1920s, but not over the past year. The Carroll Reece Museum has been undergoing a nearly $2 million renovation.
They're set to reopen in a couple of weeks, so everything that was packed up and moved off campus has to be unpacked and put back in place.
It's as if the Reece Museum's namesake, former Congressman B. Carroll Reece, is overlooking the move back in; lots of his artifacts are being put back after being packed away for the past 13 months. "Originally the capital maintenance project was to take four to six months. We ran into some delays so it took 13 months to finally finish," says museum director Theresa Hammons.
Some changes are evident right through the front door. Others are not so noticeable, like a new heating and cooling system, security, new windows and, for the first time, an elevator.
It really gave the museum a chance to take a look and inventory their more than 20,000 artifacts. "It was a great opportunity to really pull everything out and to see what we had. We found some beautiful pieces of artwork, textiles and things that we had not seen in a very long time," Hammons said.
Some new exhibits will be on display for the reopening, including "Vanishing Appalachia," centering in on some vanishing traditional mountain practices.
Some new paintings from local artist Bill Bledsoe of the campus will be included as well.
"We're trying to take this opportunity to bring out some things that we have not shown before, but basically when you come in it's the same floor plan, the same layout. Everything is in the same place in general," Hammons says.
But it would be impossible to see everything that the museum has at once. "The general public usually doesn't realize that when they go into a museum they're only seeing about two percent of the institution's collections. There are a great deal of things that are usually hidden away downstairs in the collection rooms," she says.
The museum reopens to the public on April 23, with a special celebration event on Saturday, April 27. The museum will have new hours: Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.