Funk Heritage Center History
In 1999, the Funk Heritage Center welcomed the first visitors to this unique museum. By December, 2016, more than 135,000 adults and children have visited and enjoyed many outstanding programs and tours. The $3 million center was designated as Georgia's Official Frontier and Southeastern Indian Interpretive Center by the Georgia legislature in 2004. In 2013, it became a certified National Park Service Trail of Tears Interpretive Site.
A tenth anniversary celebration was held on Saturday, April 18, 2009, honoring the late Atlanta physician, Dr. James Funk (shown at right), the museum's founder, and others who played key roles in the development of this dream. A letter of congratulations was received from Governor Sonny Perdue. It was presented to Dr. Joseph Kitchens by Mr. Rogers Wise. Dr. Jamil S. Zainaldin, President of the Georgia Humanities Council, was the guest speaker during a brief program. He focused upon the importance of museums and what they mean to communities and universities. He stressed the necessity of preserving the past for future generations and complimented Reinhardt University for having such a wonderful resource on the campus.
A recently completed water-wise landscape was dedicated and Dr. Kitchens thanked all of the businesses and individuals who donated time, talent and resources to the project including Diane Minick, Executive Director of the Upper Etowah River Alliance. Over $50,000 in-kind donations, cash donations and matching grants were received for this project. Mr. John Bennett, Jr., co-chair of the FHC Advisory Board and a member of the College's Board of Trustees, presented landscape architect and contractor William Blair Ross a special award. Mr. Ross developed the landscape plan and dedicated hundreds of hours of work to achieve the final project. Only plants native to Georgia are included in the Xeriscape landscape which will conserve water.
After the ceremony, visitors toured the Lou Reeta Barton Northcutt Native Garden to view some of Georgia's native plants. Many of the guests also walked to the Appalachian Settlement to see the historic cabins and farm buildings.
June 1, 2010, Reinhardt College became Reinhardt University. In July, 2015, Dr. Kina Mallard became the president of Reinhardt University replacing Dr. Thomas Isherwood who retired.
Funk Heritage Center Receives Governor's Award in the Humanities May 11, 2010
The Funk Heritage Center was honored at the 25th Governor's Awards in the Humanities luncheon. This state-wide program recognizes and celebrates local community organizations and members working to increase the understanding and appreciation of the humanities in Georgia. The award was one of only 12 presented on Tuesday, May 11, 2010, at the Old Georgia Railroad Depot in downtown Atlanta. The Center was only the ninth museum in the state to receive this prestigious award. Hundreds of policymakers, business leaders and representatives of cultural organizations from across Georgia gathered to celebrate the humanities at the annual program. Twelve organizations and people who are doing exemplary work in the field across the state were honored and encouraged to serve as models for others.
Pictured left, Georgia Humanities Council Board of Directors Chair Lisa White (left), Governor of Georgia representative Lonice Barrett (second from left), and National Endowment for the Humanities Chair and former U.S. Congressman Jim Leach (right) recognize the Funk Heritage Center at Reinhardt College on May 11, 2010. Accepting the Governor's Award on Center's behalf were Reinhardt Board of Trustees Chair William G. Hasty Jr. '67 (center) and Funk Heritage Center Executive Director Dr. Joseph H. Kitchens (second right.)
The Ribbon Cutting for New Exhibits, September 29, 2016
One hundred and seventy-eight years after the Cherokee Nation was removed from their homeland in Cherokee County, and 20 years after a 1995 Canton Walmart artifact excavation, Reinhardt University’s Funk Heritage Center hosted an open house and ribbon cutting for two new exhibits that include artifacts from the excavation. In 2014, $53,000 was raised by the Center to have 137 boxes of artifacts from the excavation, now called the Hickory Log collection, curated at the University of Georgia Laboratory of Archaeology where they will be preserved. There are artifacts from the Archaic, Woodland and Mississippian periods in addition to Cherokee artifacts from before their removal an 1838. As a result of a matching grant from the Scott Hudgens Family Foundation, the Center then raised $100,000 in 2015 to design and install new exhibits. A museum design team worked on this project with museum staff and two of three new exhibits were completed in the Hall of Ancients. Life Along the Etowah and History Beneath Our Feet both include artifacts from the Hickory Log collection and a third exhibit about Cherokee Life will open in 2017.
Pictured from left, Skip Spears (Chairman of FHC Advisory Committee) Dr. Joe Kitchens (Director of the Funk Heritage Center), Billy Hasty (Chairman of the Reinhardt Board of Trustees), Dr. Kina Mallard (Reinhardt President), Doris Jones (Waleska Mayor), Bill Brogdon (executive director of the Scott Hudgens Family Foundation), Rebecca McCallum (also representing the Scott Hudgens Family Foundation) and Dr. Mark Williams (Director of the University of Georgia Laboratory of Archeology).