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New Cook Museum of Natural Science

Plans Unveiled for New Cook Museum of Natural Science

The John Cook family, owners of Cook’s Pest Control Inc., unveiled today the theme and concept for a new Cook Museum of Natural Science.

In the 1960s the original Cook’s Natural Science Museum began with a few “bug collections,” primarily as an educational tool for the employees of the pest control business. During the 1970s, John Cook, Sr., took the growing collection of insects and mounted wildlife on the road to share with a wider audience. In 1980,
the demand to see the collection had grown to the point that a permanent museum was constructed in Decatur, Alabama, and opened to the public. By
2013, the museum had grown to include more than 1,200 specimens and extensive collections of insects, mounted birds and animals, rocks and minerals,
seashells and corals. Visitors, including school groups, come from the Tennessee Valley region and beyond.
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The Future

The board of directors for the museum – led by Brian Cook, chief administration officer at Cook’s Pest Control and the fourth-generation of the family in the
business – began discussing how to carry the legacy of the museum into the future to appeal to a new generation of visitors. The result will be a new facility
with expanded exhibits and services. The name of the new non-profit organization is the Cook Museum of Natural Science. It will be located in the
heart of downtown Decatur directly across from city hall on the corner of Lee Street and 4th Avenue. The new facility will encompass 35,000 square feet on a
two-acre campus. There is an existing building which most recently housed an auto parts store. That structure will remain as the base, with major
enhancements and additions that will create a natural science museum with a footprint seven times that of the original museum. The architect for the project is
Joe Fuqua of Fuqua & Partners, Huntsville, AL; the exhibit design director is Patrick Marsh of Six Days Studio, Cincinnati, OH. Completion is slated for late
2015. Market research conducted by America’s Research Group, Orlando, FL, shows an anticipated attendance the first year in excess of 200,000 people for
the Cook Museum of Natural Science.
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The Mission

The Cook Museum of Natural Science has the mission to engage, excite and educate visitors of all ages about the natural, created world around us. Museum
Board President Brian Cook stated, “The theme around which we are creating the museum is, ‘Life is Amazing.’ We will include interactive, hands-on and
experiential exhibits to engage our visitors in learning just how fascinating life and our Earth really are.”  Educational programs are central to the museum’s mission. The museum board
has hired Schelly Corry as executive director to facilitate that goal. Mrs. Corry has nearly 20 years of experience in the nature and science field, most recently
working for the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, TX. One of her specialties is developing engaging science-based curricula and educational
programs in a wide range of content areas for preschoolers to college students. “Schelly is passionate about sharing nature and science with others. That
characteristic, combined with her expertise in the natural science museum arena, makes her an ideal fit to help us transform the vision my grandparents began 34
years ago into the future,” Brian Cook said.

The project’s development can be followed on the CookMuseum.org web site and the Cook Museum of Natural Science Facebook page.