The transformation is almost complete, and the grand opening is this weekend. The McDuffie Museum will open to the public Sunday afternoon, after a private grand opening on Saturday.
"They've made a silk purse out of a sow's ear," board member Epp Wilson said when he walked into the building Tuesday.
Two State Construction Company crews have worked seven days a week for 10 months to transform two old buildings on Main Street into a state-of-the-art facility. The crews ran into several obstacles, including lead paint and asbestos that had to be removed, layers of dropped ceilings and floors at different levels that had to be remedied during the process.
The workers faced a tight schedule because the museum has been scheduled since January 2007 to host the Smithsonian Institute's Traveling Exhibit, Key Ingredients: America by Food.
The exhibit arrived Tuesday, the final clean-up of the building was to take place Wednesday and the exhibit was to be unpacked and set up on Thursday before the big weekend. Mary Anne Coussons, who has been the acting director for the museum, jumped on the sidewalk outside the museum and clapped her hands as the exhibit crates were unloaded from the truck.
"I just can't wait to be standing and watching the looks on people's faces when they walk in the door Saturday," she said. "It's so unique to see what the U.S. has gone through from the Native Americans planting corn to now cooking in microwaves. We can't do without food, but we don't think about all this as we are cooking and eating."
Sponsored and created by the Smithsonian Institute and the Georgia Humanities Council, the exhibit focuses on how Americans produce, prepare, preserve and present foods in a lively presentation. The exhibit also will focus on the types of foods prepared in the region. Members of the GHC came to Thomson last summer and interviewed local cooks, who are featured in a book that accompanies the exhibit.
Part of the Smithsonian's Museum on Main Street program, which focuses on smaller towns, Thomson was one of 12 sites across the state selected to host the exhibit. Key Ingredients will be featured at the museum Sunday, Jan. 11, through Sunday, Feb. 22. Also featured at the museum during January is an exhibit of works by local artists that tell the story of Thomson, according to Mrs. Coussons. Located on Main Street in downtown Thomson, the museum's phone number is 706-595-9923, or toll-free, 877-595-9923. Hours will be 2-4 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 11, then 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Admission is free and parking is in the rear of the building.