The Dewey and Irene Large Science Museum to open this month

Displays to feature a sea life and a preserved instrumentation exhibit, as well as Hubble telescope photographs from the Tellus Science Museum.

Sarah O’ Caroll, Viking Fusion Reporter

The project to establish a museum in Berry’s McAllister Hall, which has been in the works for over a decade, culminates this month with the opening of the Dewey and Irene Large Science Museum on the first floor.

The official opening and ribbon cutting is set for April 25, according to Dr. Gary Breton, dean of mathematical and natural sciences.

From dream to reality 

Breton said the idea to build a museum inside McAllister goes back to 2001 when the building first opened. It was the brainchild of Dr. Bruce Conn, Henry Gund professor of biology and former dean of mathematical and natural sciences, and Dewey Large, a Berry alum and veteran who passed away in 2010.

Large, former curator of the Museum of Atomic Energy in Oakridge, Tenn., had a strong interest in museums, so establishing one in McAllister had long been one of his personal missions, Breton said.

After years of fundraising, the project picked up speed with the formation of a museum committee in 2015 that combined representatives from each department in the sciences, he said.

Finding an appropriate site presented an early challenge.

“We spent a lot of time talking about what the museum would look like because we don’t really have a natural room that would make sense to be a place for a museum,” Breton said. The committee agreed last summer to convert a hallway next to the science auditorium to become exhibit space.  

The installment of the museum was made possible by donations from Dewey Large and his wife, Irene, according to Breton. 

Displays to feature objects long hidden from public view

The museum will feature three enclosed bays and one open bay where more interactive, touch-friendly exhibits will be situated. Already on display are a sea life exhibit and a “Tools of the Trade” exhibit containing physics, chemistry and biology instrumentation used at Berry in the past.


Photo by Sarah O’ Carroll

Breton said that the displays can be replaced as often as every two years, ideally by collaborating with other museums in the area.

“We hope to not just have a stagnant museum where we put things in there for forever, but [rather] something that we change out every so often,” he said.

A display featuring Hubble telescope photographs from the Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville is being installed this week and will remain at Berry for one year.

“These things have been here for what, a decade? It’s nice that we can now put them on display,” said Dr. Todd Timberlake, department chair of physics, astronomy and geology.

The museum will also display a slab of a tree that was cut down in 2001 when the McAllister building was constructed. Breton said the display will mark significant dates in the school’s history by showing those dates on the tree rings in the slab.

The core of the ring marks the year when founder Martha Berry was 20 years old, he said.


Photo by Sarah O’ Carroll

Inspiring students

Though the primary goal is to educate, Breton said the museum will also inspire.

“You see this really old instrumentation, the shell collection, and I think it just sparks interest in science,” he said. “It makes people realize that science isn’t just some place for nerdy people to hang out, but there are really some fascinating aspects that everyone can enjoy.” 


Leave a Reply