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Past, Present & Future - History Center reinvents itself
by Lindsay Burkholder
Sunday, March 31, 2013    |   
The 19,500-square-foot Chattanooga History Center is scheduled to open this fall at 2 Broad St. on the Aquarium Plaza.
The 19,500-square-foot Chattanooga History Center is scheduled to open this fall at 2 Broad St. on the Aquarium Plaza.
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Get involved

The Chattanooga History Center will offer a variety of options to visitors when its new facility opens.

* Walking tours: These are guided tours around historic locations in downtown Chattanooga.

* Gallery talks: Tours of the museum’s exhibits can be self-guided or with a tour guide.

* School tours: Speakers give presentations to classrooms about any number of historical topics.

* Customized tours: These tours can be tailored to meet a group’s specific needs.

* Special events: These include workshops, lectures and discussions.

* On the job: Opportunities for internships and volunteers will be available as well.

Donating objects

The center collects objects, photographs and documents that help tell Chattanooga’s story from 1792 to the present. All artifacts must fall within the center’s scope, which is the history of Chattanooga and the area within a 50-mile radius. For information, call 423-265-3247 or visit ChattanoogaHistory.org.

* Permanent collection: Artifacts that meet requirements for the permanent collection can be donated as gifts held in perpetual trust. Donors must have clear and legal title to all objects donated and must sign an unrestricted deed of gift.

* Teaching collection: These donations, used for teaching and hands-on interpretive programs, are items not of sufficient historical value to be included in the permanent collection or that are duplicates or reproductions.

The Chattanooga History Center is taking interactivity to a whole new level with the opening of its new facility this fall. Dr. Daryl Black, the CHC’s executive director, believes that audience participation in exhibits shouldn’t end with a touchscreen display.

“What is creative and new in a museum setting is using technology and using audio and visual presentations as a means to prompt conversations,” he says.

The new center’s historical exhibits will be a tool for engaging in conversations not just about the past but the future, too.

“We’re using the exhibits and the history of the city as a means to understand and think clearly about what our alternatives are for the future,” he says.

To accomplish this, galleries have been designed to illustrate how people in history made decisions for their communities and others. The idea is to get people thinking about how their actions within their communities today are shaping tomorrow’s reality.

The 19,500-square-foot facility, scheduled to open this fall at 2 Broad St. on the Aquarium Plaza, will have eight permanent galleries, two theaters, three sound installations and one gallery with changing exhibits.

The design team is Ralph Appelbaum Associates, the New York company responsible for such high-profile projects as the American Museum of Natural History, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Newseum.

Among the center’s key components will be the Cherokee Indians, the Civil War, industrial Chattanooga and the city’s renaissance.

Contact staff writer Lindsay Burkholder at lburkholder@times freepress.com or 423-757-6592.