To discover, preserve and interpret the fossil record of the region while fostering the appreciation and understanding of natural science through research, education and interactive experiences.
To serve as the region's leading center for natural science discovery, interpretation and inspiration while educating the public about life through time.
In late May of 2000 a Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) road construction project on the outskirts of Gray, Tennessee uncovered what would be identified as a large fossil deposit. The state and university acted quickly to preserve the site which has since proven to have tremendous scientific significance.
To maximize the impact and public benefit of the fossil site, the state and university established Tennessee's only Center of Excellence in Paleontology at ETSU and allocated funding to build the 33,000 square feet onsite Natural History Museum which opened in August 2007. Further funding was allocated to add a 7,000 square feet educational annex which opened in the fall of 2011.
Just five years since it opened its doors, the Museum has introduced hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world to the unique ecosytem of the 5 million year old Gray Fossil Site and garnered a wealth of knowledge from its priceless fossil finds.