To see (and hold) 3-D pieces of the Smokies history, you’d have to travel farther afield. Most of the large physical artifacts—household goods representing Southern Appalachian lifestyles, for example, and fragments of prehistoric pottery—are housed in Oak Ridge, TN at the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and Technical Information, or OSTI for short. Eventually, the park hopes to bring all of the collections at these two sites together as research and education tools.
The new curator of these cultural archives is John McDade, who has worked in several museums, and most recently at Acadia National Park in Maine before coming to the Great Smoky Mountains. Being a curator in a park as large and culturally rich as the Smokies is a huge job, so John is already busy improving safe, archival storage systems, sorting historic materials, and preparing for new exhibits that will be in the Visitor Center the park is building at its southern Oconaluftee entrance.