Adopt an Artifact

Artifacts transcend time to communicate the stories of the past to us today and to continuing generations.  These “messengers from the past” place us in the presence of history.

Contribute to the Artifacts Acquisitions Fund - Each year, important artifacts become available for purchase, many of such historical significance as to be preserved as part of our shared history as East Tennesseans. Help us ensure that these living reminders of the past can be purchased by the museum and remain available for the enjoyment and education of the public. Donations can be designated for a general artifact purchase fund or toward a specific artifact.

Artifact Conservation Fund - Individuals or groups can select and sponsor an artifact that needs special conservation work. Through this community support, the items of regional heritage shown here will be preserved for future generations. Names of those who donate $100 or more will be acknowledged with the artifact and to the public when the item is displayed. Donors can choose to support the conservation of one of the artifacts below or contribute to the general conservation fund.

Artifacts from the Museum’s collection available for sponsorship:

Conservation and framing

Period frame for portrait of William Carey by William Stamms Shackelford, c. 1840. Estimated cost $600.

Period frame for portrait of Melinda Wheeler Carey by William Stamms Shackelford, c. 1840. Estimated cost $600.

William Carey (1806-1863) and Melinda Emily Wheeler (1813-1892) met in what was then called Wheeler’s Gap/Wheeler Station, when he was delivering mail from Jacksboro on horseback. They married in 1831 and lived on her father’s 1,100-acre farm (Free Soil Farm), raising their family there. William would work as a clerk in the land office in Jacksboro, run a freight line from Wheeler’s Station to Middlesboro, Kentucky, and eventually become a judge, at which time Wheeler’s Station was renamed Careyville (later Caryville).

Contemporary frame for The Fouche Block by Russell Briscoe. Estimated cost $150.

William Russell Briscoe (1899-1979) of Knoxville began painting in 1957 and was influenced by Currier & Ives. A well-known regional artist, he painted known historical buildings and sites around Knoxville as gifts for friends or as commissions. He worked for J.E. Lutz & Co./Travelers Insurance.

Period frame for and cleaning of painting of William M. Caswell (1846-1926) of Knoxville. Estimated cost $2,000.

Cleaning of Smokies painting by Charles Krutch. Estimated cost $1,500.

The artwork was a wedding gift for Henry Whiting McIlwaine (1889-1968), manager of the Appalachian Marble Company, and his bride Emma Carson (1887-1980). The couple married on June 2, 1925. Charles Christopher Krutch (1849-1934) earned his living as a Knoxville portrait photographer, but his obsession was painting the Great Smoky Mountains. From the 1890s until the last years of his life, he traveled into the remote parts of the Smokies, sketched ideas on site, and then recreated the scenes from memory in his studio.

Conservation of frame for European village scene by Thomas Campbell. Estimated cost $250.

Repair frame for miniature painted portrait of young man believed to be Thomas Brown. Estimated cost $100.

Conservation of United Daughters of the Confederacy banner from Sweetwater Chapter (Gen. John Vaughn Chapter).

Cleaning of selected 19th century samplers.

Removal of World War I blue-star banner from backing.

Removal of World War II guidon from backing.


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