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This story also appears in our Summer 2020 Quarterly Newsletter.
The Museum continually adds artifacts of significance to Tennessee history, art and culture to its collection. What follows are artifacts added to the collection prior to the publishing of our Summer 2020 Quarterly Newsletter.
If you follow us on social media, you will note that this summer we also added new artifacts connected to Robert Churchwell, the first Black journalist hired by a major southern newspaper, and Brianna Mason, Miss Tennessee 2019, the first African American woman to be crowned Miss Tennessee, among others.
We welcome you to learn more about the Museum’s collection and to search for artifacts online.
Floyd Sharp World War II Collection
Floyd Sharp, Jr. played football and basketball at Knoxville’s Rule High School. He was recruited after his junior year and received army basic training at Camp Wheeler, Georgia, then medical training at Fort Ord, California.
His unit, the 382nd Infantry Regiment, participated in several attacks on the islands of Leyte and Okinawa. PFC Sharp was wounded there on May 28,1945, but refused to leave his unit and stayed on the front lines. On June 17th, while attempting to save a wounded soldier under fire, PFC Sharp was killed by an enemy machine gun. He was buried with full military honors on Okinawa, then later reburied in Knoxville in 1947. This collection includes varsity souvenirs and letters between Floyd and his family from 1944 until the time of his death in 1945.
1940s “Viceroy” Show Cart made by the Houghton Sulky Company
The Museum recently acquired a cart that was used on the Warioto Farm in Franklin, Tennessee, to train and show three and five-gaited Saddlebred horses. Founded in 1939 by Middle Tennessee industrialist and philanthropist Joe Werthan, and later operated by his son Howard, Warioto Farm gained an international reputation as a premier breeder of Saddlebreds. Today the farm is owned by Joe’s granddaughter, Joni, who continues training and boarding champion horses with an emphasis on retirees.
Painting of Abraham Bledsoe at Greenfield Fort by David Wright
Historically accurate depictions of enslaved persons during the 18th century in what became Tennessee are practically nonexistent. To fill this gap, the State Museum com-missioned David Wright, a world-renowned artist of the American frontier, to create this painting of Abraham Bledsoe.
Abraham Bledsoe was enslaved by Colonel Anthony Bledsoe and was forced to journey from Virginia to the Upper Cumberland Region during the 1780s. He carried a firearm, hunted, and joined other settlers in armed conflicts with Southeastern Indians, where his skills and bravery were acknowledged and well regarded by chroniclers of the period. Bledsoe was bi-racial, which likely permitted him to obtain a higher status than other enslaved people of his time, but he still did not enjoy the same rights and freedoms as white settlers.
Self-Portrait by Philip Perkins
Philip Perkins was one of the early exponents of modernism among Tennessee painters. The Museum has recently added one of his self-portraits to the collection, believed to have been painted sometime between 1940 and 1945. He was born in Waverly and studied at both Vanderbilt University and the Art Institute of Chicago. After his studies, he moved to Paris to study with Louis Marcoussis and Fernand Leger, residing there until he was forced to flee the Nazi invasion. This self-portrait with mandolin probably was painted in New York City. In 1948, the prominent art critic Emily Genauer published one of his works in her book Best of Art, along with Marc Chagall and others. Returning to Nashville in 1948, he taught at the University of Tennessee Extension Service and later at Cheekwood and Watkins Institute of Art. In 1967 and 1975, he had exhibitions at the Parthenon in Nashville. In 1977, he had a posthumous exhibition at Randall Galleries in New York.
Basement East Artifacts from March 2020 Tornadoes
Deadly tornadoes in Tennessee on March 2 and 3, 2020, resulted in 25 deaths, more than 300 injured, and more than $1 billion in property damage. The Basement East, a popular Nashville music venue, was heavily damaged in the storm. The owners donated several items to the Museum’s collection including a wooden panel from their sound booth, a cinder block from the outer wall, and two tin tip jars. The cinder block was part of a mural of the record cover for the Nashville band, The Minks, led by Nikki Barber.
Carte de Visite, Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas, 1863
During the Civil War, George H. Thomas excelled as a general in the Western Theater. Thomas, a native Virginian, remained loyal to the Union when the war began. He commanded a brigade, division, or corps in every major battle of the Army of the Cumberland. Following the Union defeat at the Battle of Chickamauga, Thomas was promoted to command the army, a position he held during the decisive Battle of Nashville and through the end of the war. The Museum recently acquired this rare carte-de-visite image of Thomas, taken in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, in June 1863, just days prior to the beginning of the Tullahoma Campaign. Thomas is holding his personal sidearm, a Model 1860 Cavalry saber, which is a part of the Museum’s collection.