BARTOW BIO — Georgia Museums Inc.'s venues see tremendous growth under Hopkins' leadership
by Marie Nesmith
May 29, 2011 | 2905 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As the executive director for Georgia Museums Inc. and the Booth Western Art Museum, Seth Hopkins has spearheaded numerous projects to fruition.

Along with the Bartow History Museum moving into its new home -- the 1869 Courthouse -- in December 2010, other milestones have included the opening of Tellus Science Museum and the unveiling of the Booth's 40,000-square-foot wing. In addition to doubling its gallery space, the expansion garnered the Booth the largest permanent exhibition of Western art in the country.

Among surveyed visitors to Bartow County last year, the Booth and Tellus were the top destinations for day travelers. These Georgia Museums Inc. venues give Bartow the distinction of being the only community of its size to feature two Smithsonian affiliates. Visitors from every U.S. state and more than 40 foreign countries have toured the Booth and Tellus museums, which opened in 2003 and 2009, respectively. Georgia Museums Inc.'s three museums draw more than 250,000 people each year.

Recently, Hopkins added another title to his résumé, becoming the president of the Museums West Consortium.

"As president of the Museums West Consortium I will act as the spokesman for the group of 13 museums, which includes the Amon Carter, Autry, Buffalo Bill and Gilcrease," he said. "I will also be responsible for overseeing the planning of the group's annual meeting and cooperative projects such as a major photography exhibition we are organizing from the archives of National Geographic. The exhibition will open simultaneously at 10 museums in October 2012."

Occupation: Executive Director of Georgia Museums Inc. and Booth Western Art Museum

City of residence: Cartersville since 1991

Family: Married to the former Kelly Parris since 1992; children -- son, Stephen, 15, daughter, Hadley, 13

Education: Bachelor of Science degree in Broadcast Journalism from Syracuse University, 1989; undergraduate art courses at Kennesaw State in 2000 to 2001; graduate art history classes at University of Wyoming and Georgia State in 2001 to 2002; graduate museums studies courses at West Georgia in 2002 to 2003; and MLS degree in Museum Studies from University of Oklahoma in 2005.

Age: 44

When did you become the executive director of Georgia Museums Inc. and the Booth Western Art Museum, and why did you want to be a part of this organization?

A: I became executive director of Booth Western Art Museum in 2000 when it was first envisioned and Georgia Museums Inc. in 2003 when it was created by combining the Booth with the Bartow History Museum and what became Tellus Science Museum. I was anxious to apply the various business skills I had developed to a new career and to help build something from scratch that I knew would be tremendous for the community.

Working for the organization before the Booth was built and the Bartow History Museum and Tellus Science Museum moved into their larger facilities, what does it feel like to see many projects and goals come to fruition?

A: It has been very satisfying to see more than 250,000 square feet of museum space built or renovated over the past 10 years, not just because the spaces are so wonderful, but for the educational opportunities they provide.

What do you enjoy most about this line of work?

A: My family and I have gotten to meet so many wonderful people, like artists, collectors, scholars, writers and the many people who support the museums as volunteers, members or donors. We have also had the opportunity to travel to many great places in the West.

What is your greatest professional achievement?

A: Just this week I was elected president of the Museums West Consortium, a group of the 13 largest and most important Western art museums. In 2010 the Kennesaw State Art Department presented me the Flourish Award for Art Leadership.

How have the museums impacted tourism in Bartow County?

A: The three museums attract more than 250,000 people annually. Many of these visitors are from other states or foreign countries, spending money at local hotels, restaurants, gas stations and many other businesses.

What are your goals for the organization as a whole, especially the Booth museum?

A: We continue to look for ways to attract more visitors to all three museums and improve the impact of our educational programs. At the Booth we are increasing emphasis on our Civil War collection over the next several years to coincide with the 150th anniversary of this tragic conflict. We will also broaden the appeal of our temporary exhibitions by exploring new themes over time.

How did the special exhibit, "Ansel Adams: A Legacy," benefit the Booth museum as far as exposure, visitation, etc.?

A: The Adams exhibition attracted over 40,000 visitors in six months, by far the most ever for an exhibit at the Booth. There was also significant regional press coverage of the exhibit that will hopefully continue to benefit the museum increase attendance for years to come. We believe this exhibit will be seen as a tipping point event in the history of the Booth museum.

How has the Booth's 40,000-square-foot wing, unveiled in 2009, enhanced the museum's overall offerings?

A: The new wing allowed us to reorganize the way the entire Booth collection is presented. We now have the majority of the traditional style art in the original building and our more contemporary style works in the new building. This provides a clear dividing line and invites viewers to draw comparisons. We are also able to showcase large scale sculpture in our new two-story sculpture court. The banquet room with seating for over 250 has also proved to be a popular location for community and corporate events as well as weddings.

How would you describe yourself in three words?

A: Driven Learner Dreamer

Who is your favorite artist or what type of artwork do you prefer?

A: I like just about all of the artists in the museum and picking just one or two is impossible, but my biggest preference is for those who have something unique about their work.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

A: That I like to cook.

What is your favorite restaurant/meal?

A: When not eating at the museum café, I like Swheat Market, Johnny Mitchell's Smokehouse, or anything Derek Morgan cooks at Cartersville Country Club.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

A: Golf

What is your favorite quote?

A: "Lead, follow or get out of the way."

Where is your favorite place to be in Bartow County?

A: The Colliding Cultures Gallery in the Booth museum.