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Audit: Leaks found at new $160M Tennessee state museum

By KIMBERLEE KRUESIMay 30, 2019

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee’s new $160 million state museum had multiple water leaks in the first few months of being open, according to a state audit released Thursday.

“Although museum management took steps to deploy adequate physical safeguards to protect artifacts from water damage, the risk remains that artifacts will suffer irreparable damage, causing not only an increase in the museum’s restoration costs but also a loss of Tennessee’s cultural history,” the report read.

In total, nine water leaks were reported between October and March. One leak was found in an electrical closet, while another was found in an exhibition area. Officials say no artifacts were damaged, but some items were moved to prevent damage and buckets were placed to catch falling water.

Museum management officials say no new leaks have occurred since March 10, adding that they are continuing to work with the Department of General Services and their contracted providers on water issues.

Additionally, the state’s museum commission will meet Tuesday to discuss the audit and its findings.

The 137,000-square-foot museum opened at Nashville’s Bicentennial Capitol Mall in early October. The move marked the first time in the museum’s 81-year history that it had its own building in Nashville. The museum was located in the War Memorial Building until it was moved to the basement of the James K. Polk Center in 1981.

However, the majority of the state’s artifacts — nearly 156,400 of them — remain housed in the Polk Center. According to the report, the Polk Center also has experienced regular water leak and mold issues.

The museum uses devices to monitor temperature and humidity levels, but the report noted that the devices can’t regulate the temperature consistently because of frequent spikes in those locations.

“A collections storage facility is in the planning stage to move the state museum’s collection from the Polk building,” museum management responded in the report.

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