Graceland was Elvis Presley’s home base throughout most of his career. He bought the mansion and fourteen acres in 1957. He was working on his second movie. Elvis was always on the road and had other houses in the Los Angeles area. His Memphis, Tennessee mansion, however, was home.
After his passing, Graceland was transformed into a museum. Elvis Presley fans from all over the world travel to Memphis to see the home of The King. At any given time, there are about 150,000 artifacts on display inside the museum. Surprisingly, that is only about ten percent of the total collection. The archive at Graceland houses 1.5 million items from Elvis’ past.
In a recent episode of “Gates of Graceland,” VP of Archives Angie Marchese discussed she and her team preserve the artifacts and how they decide what to display.
Maintaining Graceland for Future Generations
According to Marchese, many of the artifacts on display at Graceland have gone through a thorough restoration process. In fact, the entire collection is in a near-constant state of restoration or preservation. The plan is to maintain as many of the artifacts as possible. Marchese and her team hope to preserve the items for future generations of Elvis Presley fans.
The level of restoration that each piece receives depends on the history of the piece. Marchese and her team will restore some items to like-new condition. If there is history to a piece, they may preserve it as-is. If the “flaw” in an artifact is part of its story, they just maintain the item.
On the show, Marchese gives the example of, “If it was something that Elvis was wearing and he spilled orange juice on it, we’re not going to take the orange juice stain out.”
Fans who want to catch a glimpse of the other 90 percent of the items and even get to interact with some can take the Ultimate VIP Tour. This allows fans to go into the archive building and handle some of the Elvis artifacts.
What Goes on Display?
Items on display in Graceland change from time to time. The major factor in deciding what goes on display, according to Marchese, is the story they want to tell. They start by outlining a story. Then, they go through the archive to find items that will help fill in the details. The result can be seen all through the Memphis mansion.
The Graceland experience gives fans a look at the life and home of Elvis Presley and it all starts with the archives and the treasures they hold.