NASHVILLE, TN — This holiday season, the Tennessee State Library & Archives invites visitors to explore their Tennesseans Through the Lens: Portrait Photography in Tennessee exhibit, open now through the end of the year. 

Guests can view this new exhibit and the permanent interactive exhibits in the Library & Archives lobby from Monday to Saturday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. CT. This exhibit is free and open to the public.

“Many of us take photos of our loved ones during the holidays,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “This holiday season, I encourage you to come and explore the Library & Archives’ new portrait photography exhibit that tells Tennesseans’ stories through the years.”

The new exhibit highlights images from the Library & Archives collection of over a million historic photographs. Visitors can explore how Tennesseans used portraiture to share pictures of themselves, friends, family members and even celebrities. Through the exhibit and can follow changing technology that Tennesseans used to document significant moments in their lives from paintings to photographs. 

“We are excited to welcome guests to share some of the most interesting and beautiful photographs in our extensive collections,” said Jamie Ritter, Tennessee State Librarian and Archivist. “Through this exhibit, you will see the evolution of portrait photography from paintings to pocket-sized photographs.”

To preserve Tennessee’s history for current and future generations, the Tennessee State Library & Archives, a division of the Department of State, collects and protects books, records and other documents of historical and reference value, focusing on items about Tennessee and Tennesseans. 

The Library & Archives is home to many irreplaceable historical documents, including Tennessee’s three constitutions, letters from Tennessee’s three presidents, records from 55 former Tennessee governors, a comprehensive collection of Tennessee newspapers dating back to 1791 and original records of the State of Franklin.

The Library & Archives is located at 1001 Rep. John Lewis Way North on the northeast corner of Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, across from the Tennessee State Museum. Parking is available for guests in the Library & Archives garage on Jackson Street/Junior Gilliam Way.

The Library & Archives library, microfilm and manuscripts reading rooms are open for research Tuesday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT. Research appointments are recommended. With an appointment, Library & Archives staff can help visitors build a list of relevant collection items and can often pull some of the items in advance.

For more information about the Library & Archives or to schedule a research appointment, call 615-741-2764, email or visit