The new Cook Museum of Natural Science is bigger than the last one. To be specific, it is 12 times as large. For some reason, only 1 out of 11 exhibits will focus on insects. This is shocking to some, as John Cook Sr. of Cook’s Pest Control founded the museum. Mike Taylor, the museum’s marketing and P.R. manager, believes that everyone expects more room for insects because of the name.
He maintains that this is not a bad thing, as everyone has heard about Cook. However, he said that the old museum was not only about bugs and that it offered much more. Taylor thinks that everyone will be pleasantly surprised. The newest additions to the museum are jellyfish, fish, alligators, turtles, snakes, and other live creatures. Aside from this, people will see a big collection of minerals and gems. Also, there will be faithful recreations of deserts, rivers, and forests.
The Grand Opening
The Cook Museum’s new location is at 133 Fourth Ave. N.E. in Decatur. The grand opening will take place on June 7. During the opening weekend, the museum will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m on Friday. As for Saturday, and Sunday, people will be able to visit it from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. respectively. Tickets will soon be available to the general public. On the other hand, the museum members will be able to purchase them two days before their sales begin. If you want to become a member, you can do so by paying a $55 fee.
The new building is around 62,000 square-feet big. It contains terrariums, aquariums, meteorites, and a functional beehive. Aside from this, there are taxidermy displays which have a 9-foot grizzly bear, among other things. For those of you wondering, the museum will house some fascinating insects. For instance, there will be a wide range of blue death feigning beetles, katydids, and black widow spiders.
Nevertheless, this is not one of those museums where you have only stuff to look at. Quite the contrary — this museum’s exhibits should be experienced. To illustrate, it will have a climbable replica of a giant poplar tree and a cave display. Taylor stated that their mission was to get everyone excited about everything nature has to offer. And they want to prompt people to start exploring.
The History of the Museum
The Cook Museum came to be because of John Cook Sr.’s bug collection. Cook relied on it to train his employees. He opened his facility as a museum in 1980. And for about 36 years, people did not pay any fees to enter it. According to Taylor, more than 750,000 people came to this museum from 1980 to 2016. It was in 2012 that they decided to do some renovations. However, in the end, they concluded that it would be best to redo it from the ground up.
In addition, Taylor stated that they had spent about $32.4 million on the renovation. They got this substantial amount from organizing fundraisers. The plan was to hire 100 employees — some of them would work part-time and others full.
As for live animals, they obtained them in different ways. For example, they bought gopher snakes and kingsnakes from collectors and breeders. And the alligators were from a reserve. The museum will return them once they become so large that they will no longer be able to keep them. Additionally, UAB gave them the diamondback terrapins. Once they grow, they will release them.
The Cook Museum relies on its own specimens as well. It has a permit to do this at Wheeler Wildlife Refuge. The employees even got some invertebrates and insects from there. However, the rest of the live animals are donated. Taylor concluded that there was a 30-day quarantine process which ensured they were healthy.