Alexander: We Tennesseans Love Stories About Ourselves

Posted on October 4, 2018

“Today, in this magnificent new Tennessee State Museum, you can walk across the state in 30 minutes and get to know the state pretty well. …And I recommend it.”


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NASHVILLE, October 4, 2018 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said the new Tennessee State Museum tells “stories that that have formed our state and our proud character.”

“Forty years ago, I walked across Tennessee in my campaign for governor, 1022 miles from Maryville to Mountain City to Memphis. My walk took six months,” Alexander said. “Today, at the new Tennessee State Museum, you can walk across the state in 30 minutes and get to know the state pretty well. If you start at the entrance of the Children’s Gallery, you’ll see a huge map of Tennessee spread across the floor.  When you look east, you’ll see the Chattanooga Choo Choo and the Great Smokies. And when you look west, there is the Memphis Pyramid and the Eiffel Tower —in Paris, Tennessee.”

Alexander spoke today at the opening of the new Tennessee State Museum in Nashville.

Alexander continued: “Walk up to Bristol where buffalo traces running down the Shenandoah Valley became wagon trails as pioneers surged into the Tennessee country at the end of the Revolutionary War. Where, in 1927, Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter family made the first commercial recordings of hillbilly music. Stop by Gray where Mastodons roamed. Or Tennessee’s oldest town, Jonesboro, and its Storytelling Festival. Walk on to Norris to the Museum of Appalachia’s collection of pioneer living. And then to Oak Ridge to peek into the future with the world’s fastest computer. To the east will be Knoxville’s skyline and Chilhowee Mountain, where Spanish explorers came in 1567.  The massive cooling towers in Rhea County will remind you of what TVA has meant to Tennessee. Stand on Missionary Ridge and imagine what it was like to see the cannon balls coming toward you from Moccasin Bend down below.

“Now you will have gotten to Chattanooga on your walk through the Children’s Gallery and there is still a long way to go and many stories to learn – about Music City and Carl Perkins, and Beale Street, and the Great Earthquake of 1812 that made the Mississippi River run backward and formed Reelfoot Lake while Davy Crockett was in the midst of a West Tennessee bear hunt.”

Alexander concluded, “Even a short walk in the Children’s Gallery will give you a taste of the treasures assembled in this Museum or take a different kind of walk through the ‘Tennessee Time Tunnel’ from prehistoric days until today. Our children need to learn American history and Tennessee history, so they can grow up knowing what it means to be an American and a Tennessean. Learning history helps to understand what is happening today and helps to navigate tomorrow. This magnificent new Tennessee State Museum is full of our stories. This museum will give Tennesseans a chance to take a walk through our state – and I recommend it. Within just a few minutes, you will get a taste of the stories that have formed our state and our proud character, and you will be grateful to those who had the foresight to give us and future generations this wonderful opportunity.”

Alexander was governor when the original museum opened in 1981 in the James K. Polk building.