A Legacy Of Love
DECATUR, Ala. (WBRC) - John Cook never set out to create a world-class museum. He never intended to follow his father into the family business either. He did both. Now Cook’s Pest Control, the business his father began, and the Cook Museum of Natural Science in Decatur are part of an ongoing legacy which is Absolutely Alabama.
“He went to Georgia Tech, got a degree in architecture,” explains Scott Mayo, Executive Director of the Cook Natural Science Museum. “His father had opened a pest control business and gave termite guarantees. John came back to the state of Alabama and was going to be an architect. His father had passed. He just felt that, and this was John Cook, just felt that inner need to honor those guarantees that had been made on those termite contracts.”
“Years and years and years later it’s turned into what it turned into.”
The book of Job says. ‘Ask the animals and they will teach you.’ John Cook believed that, and he believed he would create a museum of natural science that would teach future generations.
Scott remembers, “It was a bug collection that was a training for his technicians. And just added to it and added to it and the decision was made let’s just turn this into an actual museum.”
“The collection grew into the Cook Museum of Natural Science which began on a much smaller scale,” says Scott. “Mr. Cook passed. When the family got together, and it was time to make a decision about the old museum. In 2012 they voted to go big. Seven years after the decision was made the museum as it now sits opened, 62,000 square feet.”
Scott describes the museum as, “Just an incredible set of exhibits. We’ve got the ability to engage and excite. To just excite kids about the natural world where they want to look deeper. They want to dig deeper, and they go out of here being educated and they didn’t even realize it happened.”
“They come in with a smile on their face, but they leave with a bigger smile on their face. You start your first exhibit here with just a look at the natural world. Look around you and now look deeper. As you go through from exhibit to exhibit, hitting different biomes, we’re still encouraging people that life is amazing but sometimes you get to look a little closer to see it.”
“We’ve got educational classes. We also do field trips, but we also run a restaurant. We’ve got a gift store. We’ve got even rental space. I never get bored. We want people to go out of here a little bit changed and certainly challenged in their thinking.”
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