Cookeville History Museum Revisits 1980’s

Cookeville History Museum Revisits 1980s in New Exhibit


COOKEVILLE – It was the decade of expressions like “totally,” “gag me with a spoon” and “eat my shorts.” Big hair, leg warmers and MTV were all the rage, and games like Pac-Man and Centipede dominated arcades.


And this Saturday, the Cookeville History Museum will be revisiting those gnarly times in a new exhibit, “Cookeville: Back to the ’80s,” which opens with a reception from 1-3 p.m.


“We focus so much on older history most of the time, so it’s fun to explore history that’s a little more modern – history we can actually remember,” Pam Philpot, exhibit specialist, said. “It reaches a different crowd.”


The exhibit will highlight iconic Cookeville hangouts of the 1980s, such as the Fun Tunnel, Varsity Twin and Mini Burger, as well as pop culture and world events.


“It’s going to be really fun and nostalgic,” Beth Thompson, museum manager, said.


Over the past few weeks, museum staffers reached out to the community for photos and memorabilia, including favorite ’80s outfits, toys, video games and Cookeville-specific artifacts. Loaned items will continue to be collected through Thursday at the history museum.


“We would especially like photos of teenagers at that time with their friends at the mall, CHS football games, homecoming dances – all those places kids hung out in the ’80s,” Thompson said.


She said the exhibit has something to offer people who lived through those years, as well as the younger generation.

Museum education specialist Ashley McKee, who was just a toddler in the late 1980s, agreed.


“A lot of my friends are having ’80s-themed parties now,” she said. “So even if they didn’t experience it for themselves, they still really enjoy the fashion. It’s nostalgic in a different way.”


To McKee, the 1980s were all about bright, bold colors, heavy metal and big, heavily hair-sprayed hair. For Philpot, the music stood out – artists like Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper and Duran Duran.


“The music was fun,” she said.


The opening reception will also feature MTV videos, Nintendo games to play and retro snacks. Attendees are encouraged to show up in ’80s attire and hairstyles.


The exhibit continues through April 29 at 40 E. Broad St. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call 931-520-5455.

WHAT: “Cookeville: Back to the ’80s” exhibit opening reception


WHEN: Saturday, March 11, 1-3 p.m.


WHERE: Cookeville History Museum




CONTACT: Cookeville History Museum, 931-520-5455


PHOTO INFORMATION: Beth Thompson, Cookeville museums manager, left, and Ashley McKee, museum education specialist, show some of the items that will be featured during the “Cookeville: Back to the ’80s” exhibit, including Teddy Ruxpin and a Michael Jackson-style shirt.