COOKEVILLE – A temporary Cookeville History Museum exhibit that focused on World War I from a different view – the German perspective – garnered an award from the Tennessee Association of Museums.
The history museum, in partnership with Tennessee Tech University, received the Museums of Many Colors 2017 Award of Commendation for “World War I: A View from the Eastern Front,” an exhibit which opened in October 2016.
“We were competing against museums all over the state, so it’s an honor to receive the award,” Pam Philpot, museum exhibit specialist, said.
Philpot accepted the award along with Beth Thompson, Cookeville museums manager, and Ashley McKee, education specialist, during TAM’s annual conference earlier this year in Pigeon Forge.
The exhibit featured World War I photographs taken by German soldier Fritz Einstein.
“Dr. Michael Birdwell of Tennessee Tech University, a Friends of the Cookeville History Museum board member, was contacted by Frank Einstein concerning a collection of photographs his father, Fritz, a German soldier in WWI, had taken on the Eastern front and in Romania,” Thompson wrote in the museum’s award application. “Dr. Birdwell approached us about a possible collaborative exhibit, and we jumped on board.”
Thompson said the exhibit’s unique perspective set it apart.
“Americans are not accustomed to seeing World War I from the German point of view, and we felt showing the ‘people are, and always have been, people’ aspect of it was a special opportunity,” Thompson wrote.
As exhibit specialist, Philpot designed the layout and prepared interpretive panels, part of which were compiled using portions of Fritz Einstein’s war diary. TTU archivist Megan Atkinson lent several World War I-era artifacts and provided expertise regarding photographs and placement, as did Birdwell.
During the four weeks the exhibit was open, the history museum saw more than 500 visitors, including TTU history students, high school students and numerous veterans and their families.
“This exhibit brought an aspect of history to a segment of the population who quite possibly would never have otherwise seen it,” Thompson wrote in the award application. “Rarely do rural areas get such a broad worldview and interesting perspective.”
The Cookeville History Museum offers a variety of temporary exhibits in its front gallery room throughout the year. Its current exhibit, “Escape the Cookeville History Museum,” is geared toward kids. It continues through July 15.
The museum also contains many permanent exhibits – including a timeline that begins with the first people in the area – and offers numerous free programs and activities that promote the history of Cookeville and Putnam County.
It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at 40 E. Broad St. Admission is free. To learn more, call 931-520-5455 or visit www.cookevillehistorymuseum.com.