Brief History of The Dr Pepper Museum
The Dr Pepper Museum was founded in 1988 to educate and entertain the general public through the collection, preservation, interpretation, and exhibition of objects relevant to the history of the soft drink industry, and through that example, the free enterprise economic system. The Dr Pepper Museum & Free Enterprise Institute is a private, non-profit organization governed by a Board of Directors elected by its membership. The Museum and Free Enterprise Institute opened to the public in May 1991 and has hosted over 1,200,000 visitors.
The Museum is housed in the 1906 Artesian Manufacturing and Bottling Company building located in downtown Waco. The 100 year-old building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as the "Home of Dr Pepper.” The Museum receives the support of Dr Pepper Snapple Group and its affiliated bottlers but is not owned or operated by them.
Located at the corner of Fifth Street and Mary Avenue in the turn of the century manufacturing district, the vacant bottling plant was in a sad state of repair in a neighborhood comprised mostly of abandoned warehouses that was officially declared as "blighted" by the City. The Waco Chamber of Commerce and the City of Waco hoped that the Museum would be a catalyst for renewed energy and growth in the area, with the potential for restaurants and shops in the old warehouses down the street similar to the “West End” district in Dallas.
Dr Pepper Company donated the historic building to the non-profit organization in 1988. Renovation began in the summer of 1990. The building formally opened to the public on May 11, 1991. At that time, only a small portion of the ground level was open to the public. During the next six years, the Museum embarked on three additional construction phases until the entire building was restored and opened in May 1997.
The Museum is home to the W. W. Clements Free Enterprise Institute. The Institute was created in 1997 for the purpose of educating school children as well as adults about the economic system that underlies American life. The program uses the soft drink industry as a model to teach students about developing, producing, and marketing products. An exhibit about the life of W.W. Clements and his philosophy of life, free enterprise, and business ethics opened in 2008 on the third floor of the museum.
The Museum employs a staff of museum professionals and educators that work with the Board of Directors to fulfill the Museum’s mission. The Museum has an annual operating budget of approximately $500,000 that it derives from contributions, memberships, admissions, and the sale of merchandise through its for profit subsidiary, DP Museum Enterprises.
The Museum has received contributions from Dr Pepper Snapple Group, the Coca Cola Company, Coca Cola Enterprises, Big Red Corporation, and numerous independent soft drink bottlers. We are recognized as the only nonprofit museum in the country dedicated to the entire soft drink industry. At the time it opened to the public, the Museum’s collection of artifacts totaled approximately 1,600. Today that collection includes over 100,000 artifacts.
In 2007, the Museum completed a new collections and archives storage center in the Kellum-Rotan building. This has paved the way for the growth and consolidation of our collections and archives in one space. Our collection is now one of the largest and best in the world. In 2008, the façade of the Kellum–Rotan Building was completely restored. New administrative offices, education center, and boardroom will be completed in 2011.
Achievements and Highlights