Audit: Water Leaks At Tennessee State Museum Put Artifacts In Jeopardy | Nashville Public Radio

Audit: Water Leaks At Tennessee State Museum Put Artifacts In Jeopardy

Jun 20, 2019

The Tennessee State Museum is facing problems that range from water leaks to a lack of internal control over inventory, a new audit by the Tennessee Comptroller's office has found.

According to the agency, some of these issues put the state’s collections at risk.

Water leaks have been a recurring issue since at least 2015 in the James K. Polk Building — the museum's former home and now a storage facility. According to the audit, 96% of the museum’s collection is housed on three floors in the building.

"We also observed active water leaks coming through the ceiling of the storage and office areas from the floors occupied by the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, causing damage to the ceiling, carpet, and walls," the audit said.

Tom Smith, the chairman of the Douglas Henry State Museum Commission, told lawmakers Wednesday the group is looking for better-equipped facilities to store the collections.

"Water leaks and water damage continue to be an issue and will continue to be an issue until we are able to get the artifacts out of the Polk Building," Smith said. 

Auditors have also found nine water leaks in the new, $160 million state museum building since it opened last year. But museum officials said the most recent of those leaks was spotted in March.

Besides water leaks, the audit also found instances of noncompliance with its purchasing guidelines and timesheet process.

And investigators dinged the museum for its internal controls over its alcohol inventory. The museum has been storing alcoholic beverages for the Tennessee State Museum Foundation, which holds an annual fundraiser called "A Tennessee Waltz."

The audit found that "while the museum did perform an alcohol inventory, museum staff did not record alcohol purchases made by the foundation, and as a result, our counts of the inventory did not agree to the museum’s records."

As a result of the findings, Smith said the commission has asked the museum foundation to take the alcohol and store it somewhere else.