JOHNSON CITY (AP) — The renovation of East Tennessee State University’s B. Carroll Reece Museum that began about a year ago is nearing completion.
Director Theresa Burchett said that the $1.7 million in upgrades are expected to be complete by the end of August. She says the work at the facility should allow for better preservation of the more than 20,000 artifacts in its care. She said it might also allow the museum to receive more traveling exhibits.
Burchett said the most significant improvement is a new HVAC system and new windows, which will help preserve artifacts longer by keeping temperatures and humidity stable inside the building.
“One of the best ways to preserve artifacts and antiques and paintings is through proper temperature and humidity control,” Burchett said. “And that sounds really small to most people, but, you know, just the slightest change in humidity can ruin a painting. Temperature going up a few degrees can cause an oil painting to melt.”
The new windows are able to filter ultraviolet light to keep damaging rays from causing artifacts to fade, she said.
Other improvements include upgraded electrical, lighting and sprinkler systems and an elevator.
“It’s just going to be more comfortable, I think for people, more inviting and overall a great place to be,” Burchett said.
The largest collection of artifacts exhibited at the Reece Museum is textiles — including clothing, hats and quilts. The facility also has paintings, archaeological artifacts, old furniture, looms and dolls.
“Our collection really is pretty expansive,” Burchett said. “I think we are sort of one of those treasures in Northeast Tennessee that a lot of people don’t know about or maybe take for granted. So I’m hoping that when we reopen people will take the opportunity to visit us for the first time or revisit us.”
She says the museum will reopen early next year after all the artifacts, which were kept in storage, are put back into place.