New Acquisitions & Donations

Each quarter the Tennessee State Museum receives numerous donations for the museum collection. Several objects are also acquired for the collection. Here are a few recent examples:


Museum Receives Important Donation from Gateway Packaging Company and the Werthan Family
Recently Gateway Packaging Company donated an important collection of artifacts related to the historic Werthan Packaging Company to the museum, including an original horse-drawn, wooden wagon. These artifacts were obtained by Illinois-based Gateway through the purchase of assets from the former Werthan Packaging Company.  

Werthan Packaging was one of the longest-running, family-owned manufacturing companies in Tennessee. The manufacturer had been run by members of Nashville’s Werthan family since the late 1860s, when German-born Meier Werthan began as a rag dealer working from a wagon in downtown Nashville.

From peddling rags to creating bags, Meier Werthan developed the company into an important manufacturer in the late 1800s. He and his partner, Sigmund Godhelp, opened a produce store in downtown Nashville on Market Street (now Second Avenue) in 1868. The business changed over the years from selling produce to selling reconditioned cotton and burlap bags. In 1895, after the death of Godhelp, the business became an exclusively family-run company, and Meier passed on the management to his sons Morris and Joe.

Over the decades Werthan Bag made and sold various types of related products, including burlap and cotton bags, as well as sandbags for use during World War I and World War II. After 2000, the company relocated from the Germantown neighborhood in North Nashville to a manufacturing facility in White House, TN.

The Gateway donation of Werthan artifacts includes the wagon, samples of manufactured bags, early business ledgers, and an industrial sewing machine.

In conjunction with the Gateway donation, a number of additional artifacts were provided to the State Museum by Tony Werthan, a fifth-generation family member who was chairman of Werthan Packaging until it was acquired by Gateway. This Werthan collection includes important documentary photographs, sample bags, a portrait of Meier Werthan, historic company documents, employee newsletters, and a company history tapestry commissioned in the 1970s by Mary Jane Werthan. “Documenting our company’s history was always important to our family,” Tony Werthan noted at the time of the donation.


Signed 1819 Musical Secretary from Greene County
A cherry secretary by John C. Burgner (1797-1863), who made furniture as well as musical instruments, was recently acquired at auction for the museum's furniture collection. There is a zither (a stringed instrument like an autoharp), attached to the underside of the case top, which sounds a chord when the top drawer is extended, strummed by a quill set into the back of the drawer. Signed early Tennessee furniture is extremely rare. This piece has a label which reads, “Made by J. C. Burgner for William Paton, September the 8 1819.” The secretary is highly decorative with curly maple and various burl veneers. John Burgner and his brothers, Jacob, Henry, Christian, and Daniel made furniture primarily in the Horse Creek Community in Greene County from 1817 until 1902. Play the video below to learn more!
 

Cabinet from 9/11
The museum recently received a filing cabinet found among the debris of the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11. The museum has added it to the collection to signify this very tragic day in American history. Museum Military Curator Lisa Budreau heard that artifacts from 9/11, stored in a warehouse, were being distributed to non-profits and state entities. She made the request to the NY/NJ Port Authority who sent the item to the museum. In looking at the papers inside the cabinet, Budreau identified the company, and talked to a former employee who worked there. He told her that he had just changed jobs and left the World Trade Center five days before the airplanes destroyed the complex.
 
 
 
 
 

 
Tennessee State Museum
505 Deaderick Street
Nashville, TN 37243-1120
FREE ADMISSION
 
Open: Tuesday - Saturday:
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday: 1 to 5 p.m.
Closed: Mondays and four holidays: New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.
(615) 741-2692
TOLL-FREE: 800-407-4324
museuminfo@tnmuseum.org

 

 

 

 
 
tn4me
Tennessee State Museum
505 Deaderick Street
Nashville, TN 37243-1120
FREE ADMISSION
 
Open: Tuesday - Saturday:
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday: 1 to 5 p.m.
Closed: Mondays and four holidays: New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.
(615) 741-2692
TOLL-FREE: 800-407-4324
museuminfo@tnmuseum.org

 

 

 

 
 
tn4me