New Acquisitions & Donations

Each quarter the Tennessee State Museum receives numerous donations for the museum collection. Several objects are also acquired for the collection. For inquiries, call 615-741-2692.

Internationally Known Ceramic Artist Sylvia Hyman Leaves Museum Bequest

Middle Tennessee ceramicist Sylvia Hyman (1917–2012) had a remarkable life. A student of the Albright Art School, in Buffalo, New York, Hyman had a teaching career for many years in Texas, Kentucky and Tennessee. About 1955, the Jefferson County Schools in Kentucky bought a potter’s wheel and kiln for her to use, without her even having requested them. She had no training in ceramics, and so she studied and learned how to teach this medium. Moving to Nashville in 1960, she taught ceramics at George Peabody College for Teachers. While there she shared her gifts in design with hundreds of teachers and artists.

Hyman was an artist who constantly grew and experimented with her medium over the course of almost six decades. More than 40 examples of her work are in the museum collection. From this body of work, it is possible to see the many pathways she moved along in the many decades she worked in her beloved medium. Senior Curator of Art & Architecture Jim Hoobler says that “Sylvia was always experimenting with new techniques, moving into new forms, and developing new expressions in clay. She was eternally young, visionary, and open to new things.”

Through her generous bequest, more than 400 pieces were selected from Hyman’s studio by Hoobler and her studio assistant Cathy Moberg. The objects include items such as silk screens used to produce some of her printed trompe l’oeil works, partially completed ceramic pieces, tools, drawings, molds, and color test discs. Hyman, who had a career retrospective at the museum in 1995, looked forward to the institution moving into a building of its own on the Bicentennial Mall. In her will she made a step in that direction by bequeathing $50,000 for the future exhibition of contemporary ceramics.

Bruce Jackson Collection Acquisition

The State Museum recently acquired an outstanding assemblage of Civil War era photographs, drawings, and related items from Bruce Jackson, a widely recognized collector who has spent more than thirty years assembling this remarkable collection. The State Museum has had an association with Jackson dating to the early 1980s, and it was his desire to keep his collection intact and placed in an institution where it would be valued, preserved, and available for future generations.

The collection numbers about 180 pieces, and includes many unique and uncommon items. The rare photographs include Nashville’s College Hill Arsenal, the fortified state prison, Union Hospital No. 1 in Murfreesboro, an elevated view of the large military hospital in Nashville, and several interior views of the State Capitol. Some of the photographs are extremely rare or the only ones known to exist, including Confederate General Braxton Bragg’s headquarters in Murfreesboro, an 1857 autographed portrait of Andrew Jackson, Jr., in his West Point uniform, and a composite of the Tennessee delegation to the U.S. Congress in 1876.

In addition to the photographs, the collection contains original Civil War soldier art by Charles Waizenegger of the 75th Pennsylvania, including the railroad bridge over Whiteside Creek and the 4th of July 1865 at a Union camp near Murfreesboro. Another sketch by Julius Hemannes of the 75th Pennsylvania shows a fortified railroad trestle on the Nashville and Chattanooga line. The collection also contains an April 1862 commission signed by Military Governor Andrew Johnson, issued shortly after Nashville’s fall to the Union army.

“We are extremely pleased that Mr. Jackson has entrusted this collection to the State Museum, because we know that it represents a life-time of his passion and research, and it documents much of Tennessee with images that are one-of-a-kind,” said Dan Pomeroy, chief curator.

Museum Acquires Furniture Made by Freedman Lewis Buckner

The museum recently purchased an 1889 ornately-carved bed and dresser made by Lewis Buckner of Sevierville. Born in 1856, Buckner was a slave until the age of nine. “He probably learned the cabinetmaking trade from Christian Stump, a white man who moved to Sevier County from Michigan after serving in the Union Army during the Civil War,” Curator of Furniture Mike Bell said. “Having learned the Victorian furniture style, he then created original carving designs, evident in this bedroom furniture he made for the William A. Henderson family. According to family descendants, he lived with the Henderson family for over a year while he made furniture for the whole house.”

“The pieces are made in the Aesthetic Furniture Movement style, with fanciful carvings of flowers, leaves, pears, birds, bellflowers, wheat, fans, and various geometric designs,” Bell noted. “His creativity is evident in the varied manner in which he combined all these elements. He also created original designs on wardrobes, tables, and washstands.”

Buckner built houses throughout Sevier County, embellishing them with mantels and external architectural detailing featuring the same elements that he applied to his furniture. At least 15 examples of dwellings exhibiting his extraordinary craftsmanship still exist in the county. Several of Buckner’s flamboyantly styled houses are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, due to their significant and unique architecture.

“Lewis Buckner died in 1924, and has left us a legacy of some of the best decorative wood carving in the state,” Bell said. “Documented furniture made by a freedman is rare. Buckner’s furniture displays an important part of the African American history of Tennessee.”

This acquisition was made possible in part by TSMF Board member Pam Lewis. “I was very happy to assist the museum with acquiring this very important piece for the collection,’’ Lewis said. “It feels very gratifying to know I played a part in securing this treasure, along with the provenance which captures this extraordinary craftsman and his work, for future generations to enjoy.”





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

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