The Elvis archives may hit the road next year as a touring exhibit. With the impeded travel plans and sluggish economy of a post-9/11 world, the idea is to take Elvis to people who can't get to Memphis for whatever reason, says Jack Soden, CEO of Elvis Presley Enterprises.
"We've had over 13 million visitors to Graceland," he says. "We can take exhibits to the world and embrace another 15-20 million people. Those are the things we need to begin to do with the archives."
The first tour could come as early as next year, though its theme and itinerary are still in the planning stages. Rest assured, it will be on a grand scale.
"For a long time, the archives were the one department that spent a lot of money and didn't really create a revenue," says archives manager Angie Marchese. "But if we didn't preserve things, they wouldn't be here, and then we wouldn't have what we have on display now."
With each passing year, the archives also play a larger role in the Elvis legacy. The significance isn't lost on its principal archivist, who came up through the Graceland ranks.
Says Marchese: "Since Elvis isn't here anymore, and Vernon's not here, and Colonel (Tom) Parker's passed away, the only thing we have left to tell the story is our archives."