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Dr Pepper Museum renovates and expands

Nov. 5, 2010

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Nick Berryman | Lariat Photographer
The Dr Pepper Museum is expanding its facilities to create more space for new exhibits and increase opportunities for outside businesses to hold functions in the bigger building.

By Dorian Davis
Reporter

Visitors walk through the aged, wooden doors of the Dr Pepper Museum as construction workers hammer away in the background, in preparation for the museum's first major expansion since 1997.

The museum, which has welcomed more than a million visitors since opening in 1991, is undergoing an effort to create more room for displays and items currently in storage, new offices and an improved giftshop and soda fountain. While visitors are accustomed to the many features already in the museum, only a fraction of it is currently displayed.

"In our collection we have over 30,000 objects that you're only going to see a sample of," Joy Summar-Smith, associate director of the Dr Pepper Museum, said. "We have three rooms for collection and an archives room next door to store our objects in."

Administrative staff members will look forward to more breathing room as part of the agenda for the new building includes moving offices currently located on the first floor of the museum. Moving the offices to a new building will create room in the museum to expand current displays. One of the main exhibits, the bottling room, will benefit from the newly acquired space. The new offices will be adjacent to the museum.

"What you're seeing in the front is the construction for new office space," Summar-Smith said.

In addition to the expansion, the museum will be installing a brick walkway to commemorate Dr Pepper's 125th anniversary. For a fee, an individual may purchase brick or tile installed in the walk-way and will be allowed to select a personal engraving.

Summar-Smith was especially excited to mention the new soda fountain shop in the office building, which she hopes will be an inviting place for Baylor students and Wacoans to convene.

"We wanted to take our soda fountain and gift shop and bring it into this new building to have a bigger space," Summar-Smith said. "We're wanting to make it into a place where students can come, study, get ice cream treats and Dr Pepper."

Summar-Smith said the museum is a popular attraction for Baylor student organizations. One goal is to create more room in the courtyard area where functions are typically held, complete with

new restrooms.

"They'll be able to rent the courtyard, and we'll have access to restroom spaces," Summar-Smith said.

One organization, Alpha Chi Omega, rented space at the museum in the spring for its take a date event. West sophomore Megan O'Brien is the social chair for Alpha Chi Omega.

O'Brien said despite an unscheduled rain shower, the event was still a success, as they were able to move inside.

O'Brien recommended the museum for any organization looking to hold an event, saying the museum's rates are an incentive for anyone looking to cut costs.

O'Brien said the availability of more indoor space will make it an even more desirable place for occasions when the weather is unpleasant.

"I know they were good with us and really nice people to work with, so I think it will be really good if they have a bigger inside area so if it does rain or it's cold, you have more options," O'Brien said.

Englewood, Colo. freshman Diana Tu said she's enjoyed herself more at the events she's attended at the Dr Pepper Museum than at events held in other locations.

"I went to one that was held at the Waco Zoo and I thought the Dr Pepper one was better," Tu said.

Of the many areas to capitalize on the new space is the Dr Pepper Museum's Free Enterprise Institute.

The institute, currently located on their third floor, is an all-day program designed to educate children on the foundations of free enterprise.

Children are taught this model interactively through experiments and other methods, allowing them to see how it is applied to the soft drink industry.

"Our mission is dedicated to the soft drink industry, but also to free enterprise -- the idea that you can market it and get it out there," Summar-Smith said.

Summar-Smith said the Dr Pepper Museum also plans on hosting its own coming events, such as the fourth annual "A Dr Pepper Christmas," a play performed by local high school students.

More information for the event and others can be found on the Dr Pepper Museum's website, www.drpeppermuseum.com.

"We have a great resource here with the soda fountain, the gift shop and the museum itself, but there are so many more stories to tell," Summar-Smith said.