Since its conception in 2013, Lipscomb Academy’s innovative Ignite program has engaged upper school students in career path experiences. This yearlong-program takes learning outside the traditional classroom and inspires students to explore one of five different pre-career opportunities in Business, Fine and Performing Arts, Health Sciences, Leadership and Public Service, or STEM.
As the pandemic has hindered tours and presentations, Ignite cohort directors have had to think creatively on delivering valuable information without field trips. This spring, however, two of Nashville’s newest attractions opened and allowed small groups to tour their facilities, and Ignite Leadership and Public Service had the unique opportunity to be the first school group to tour the new Tennessee State Library and Archives, as well as experience the newly opened National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM).
When the Tennessee State Library and Archives, the division of the Department of State that collects and preserves original historical documents focused on Tennessee-related items and serves as the state's premier historical research facility, moved to its new location in Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, cohort director Mark Pugh wanted to make the tour dynamic and engaging for his students and craft an experience to include the inner workings of the Archives as the 165,000 square foot building increased archival capacity by nearly 40 percent.
"Compared to the old Archives location, this facility is massive, so much bigger than I imagined. And to find out it houses all the state’s public documents is almost unbelievable to conceive,” stated Pugh.
Through thoughtful coordination, 16 students of the Ignite Leadership and Public Service walked through temperature and humidity controlled spaces for document preservation and watched a robotic retrieval system to locate and transport documents. “One of the most interesting aspects of the tour included the robotic retrieval system. Our students were astonished at the state-of-the-art technology in the Archives,” said Pugh.
Students were impressed with the extensive innovation found on-site. “Although I wasn’t overly excited about visiting the Archives, I did find the amount of technology involved in the operations of the facility fascinating including the robot that retrieves the books from storage in under two minutes. I also very quickly realized that this was not just a library, actually not a library at all!” stated sophomore Izzy Jacobs.
Ignite Leadership and Public Service also toured the newly opened National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM) in downtown Nashville providing students with an immersive experience of the 400-year-evolution of African American music. Here, students gained a deeper musical and cultural perspective of the more than 50 music genres and styles that were created, influenced, and/or inspired by African Americans as they explored a virtual timeline depicting the powerful way music has defined history.
“The NMAAM is one of the most interactive spaces I have ever entered,” stated Pugh. “Music leads us. It is prominent and significant in every culture, and it’s important that all genres are celebrated and appreciated.”
"NMAAM was by far my favorite part of the trip! The museum was so engaging, and I love music history. The depth behind the music everyone knows and relates to is so important and valuable. This museum was a great way to engage and educate, and I believe it is crucial to have opportunities like this to inform and instill appreciation,” said junior Mary Papillion.
Located both in Nashville, the Tennessee State Library and Archives can be toured at 1001 Rep. John Lewis Way North and NMAAM at 501 Broadway.