COOKEVILLE – Beth Thompson has served as a smiling face to Cookeville Depot Museum visitors since she began working as historical arts assistant for the city’s museums three years ago.
On Saturday, Oct. 31, Thompson officially takes on a larger role as the city’s museums manager, overseeing not only the Depot Museum but also the Cookeville History Museum. Thompson takes over following the retirement of Judy Duke, who served as museums manager for 16 years.
“Beth Thompson brings great energy and creativity to any project with which she is involved,” Cultural Arts Superintendent Chad McDonald said in a city-issued release. “We look forward to her bringing the same enthusiasm and perspective to the position of museums manager.”
Thompson says she is excited for what the future holds for the museums.
“My son and I used to come to the Depot all the time, like twice a week, when he was younger, he was a train fanatic. So, the Depot especially has always been a special place for me,” Thompson said.
“Judy (Duke) has done so much, and I am just super honored to be picking up where she left off,” Thompson added. “I also have the honor of continuing to work with Pam Philpot (exhibit specialist for the museums) and two great Friends groups (Friends of the Cookeville History Museum and Friends of the Depot) and a great group of volunteers.”
In 2001, Thompson heard that Duke would be holding open auditions for a play at the Depot called “Round Trip.” She decided to audition and got the lead role. And it left her eager to be a part of more of the museum’s work. When the historical arts assistant position came open in 2012, Thompson jumped at the opportunity and has been working primarily at the Depot Museum since.
In her time there, Thompson says she has seen the museums be so much more than just a fun city attraction or site to see in the community.
“I love that we have the opportunity to bring a historical element to that, an element of education,” she said. “Coming to the museum is fun, but it is also an opportunity to share our community’s history and maybe even learn something about your personal history as well.”
The Cookeville History and Depot Museums are operated by Cookeville Leisure Services. The History Museum is open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday. The Depot Museum is open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Admission to both museums is free.