The year 1996 marked Tennessee’s bicentennial. In honor of the occasion, the general assembly created Tennessee 200, Inc., and charged it with developing bicentennial programs. Local and traveling programs were developed to bring the celebration to all areas of the state.
Tennessee Treasures, a traveling historical exhibit, inaugurated the bicentennial activities in 1993-94 by visiting all ninety-five counties. The Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, a nineteen-acre urban park located north of the State Capitol, was constructed as the permanent monument to the bicentennial. The mall was dedicated on Statehood Day, June 1, 1996. The Spirit of Tennessee Bicentennial Train, a traveling exhibit focusing on Tennessee’s developments in commerce and industry, made some thirty-five stops across the state in 1996. The Bicentennial Arts and Entertainment Festival presented a month-long program highlighting the state’s symphony orchestras and its opera, theater, and ballet companies. Volunteer 200 Day, a state day of volunteer service, was initiated on June 1, 1995; citizens developed local projects and participated in programs planned by the state organization, including a Civil War heritage trail, an archives training program, and a World War II veterans survey. Grants from Tennessee 200 also provided funds for local projects.