Marty Stuart To Help Dedicate Renovated Carter Family Museum

This appeared on - September 25, 2009

After nearly seven months of work, the newly renovated Carter Family Museum will open its doors again Sunday afternoon with the help of one of country music’s best known stars.

Marty Stuart will be on hand with several other guests to help dedicate the museum — located in the old A.P. Carter Grocery Store next to the Carter Family Fold — before he takes the stage with his band, the Fabulous Superlatives, at 3 p.m.

The dedication ceremony begins at 1:30 p.m.

It will be Stuart’s first appearance at the Carter Family Fold since he came for the reopening of the A.P. Carter Cabin.

Carter Family Fold Executive Director Rita Forrester said she is excited to have Stuart — a longtime friend of the Carter Family — on hand for the unveiling.

“It wasn’t planned specifically that way, but it worked out — he actually volunteered to help with the dedication,” Forrester said. “He wanted to be a part of it, and it will be wonderful to have him here for the day.”

Visitors to the newly modeled museum will notice several major differences as soon as they enter, Forrester said.

The museum is designed to follow the legacy of the Carter Family chronologically from the group’s first recordings in Bristol in 1927 up through the present day.

“There’s all kinds of interactive exhibits where you can actually listen to music at a listening station. You can push a button and see video from the first festival,” Forrester said. “You picture scroll on the family tree so you see digital pictures. It’s a lot of audiovisual and interactive displays.”

Design Minds, a exhibit consulting firm that helped with the Ralph Stanley Museum in Clintwood, oversaw the renovation.

While the multimedia exhibits and amenities like new lights and central heating give the former grocery store a modern feel, Forrester said steps were taken to keep the store’s 1940s-era atmosphere. The building’s old wood flooring was taken up, refinished and reused, she said.

“I know years ago when (A.P.) would stay there in the store and sleep there a lot, he had an old ceramic light fixture, and it had a string on it with a spark plug on the end. And there’s a ceramic fixture with a spark plug on the end in there, so that’s our nod to him,” Forrester said.

Despite the transformation the former grocery store has undergone, Forrester said she believes her grandfather would be pleased with the changes.

“It’s vastly different than what it was when he built it,” she said. “But I think he would be pleased to know what it’s used for and to know that we saved and preserved it, and that there’s a lasting tribute to the Carters and to him and all that he did.”

The entire overhaul ran about $300,000 and was part of a three-phase project that began in 2003.

The majority of the renovation’s costs was paid with grants from federal and state agencies that were made available through The Crooked Road initiative, said Forrester.

Even with the grants, Forrester said it was the help of volunteers that made the renovation possible.

Between 75 and 100 people lent a hand, she said, doing everything from fabricating displays to more tedious tasks like cataloging every item in the museum, a job that took almost six weeks to complete.

“The amount of work that went into this was amazing. It involved thousands of man-hours of volunteer labor,” Forrester said. “If we didn’t have these volunteers, there’s no way we could have accomplished this. ... It just wouldn’t have been finished.”

The Carter Family Museum will be open this fall and winter on Saturdays prior to normally scheduled shows. It will resume extended hours next summer.

By Wes Bunch

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