The Dr Pepper Museum & Free Enterprise Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to collecting and interpreting the story of the soft drink industry. The Museum is a product of a unique partnership between a dedicated group of volunteers, donors, professional staff, the City of Waco, and the Dr Pepper Snapple Group. Working together, these partners have built an institution that is a respected history museum, an important tourist attraction, and an educational resource for the school children and families of central Texas. Since its opening in 1991, the Museum has attracted over 1.8 million visitors.
The Museum is dedicated to its educational mission of promoting America’s free enterprise economic system. The Free Enterprise Institute uses the beverage industry as a model to explore the themes of invention, entrepreneurship, marketing, and the value of small businesses.
In March of 2001, the Dr Pepper Museum & Free Enterprise Institute acquired the historic Kellum-Rotan Building located behind the Museum at Jackson and 5th Street and began its transformation into the Museum’s East Wing. Extensive fundraising by the Museum’s Board of Directors and staff fueled a multi-phase expansion. New parking for the Museum was completed in 2002 and a new courtyard for outdoor events was finished in 2003. The Museum added new collections storage in the back portion of the East Wing in 2007. The W.W. “Foots” Clements exhibit was completed in 2008. New offices and the Hillcrest Conferece Center were completed in 2011. In May 2016, the Museum moved its gift shop and soda fountain into the East Wing and opened the 7,000 square foot Emerson Holt – Ted Getterman Exhibit Gallery.
This important expansion helped the DPMFEI to lengthen and improve its visitor experience, accommodate more school groups in its free enterprise programs, and provide additional space to display and interpreted its growing collections of soft drink objects and archives.
Since opening in 1991, the Museum’s collection of approximately 1,600 soft drink artifacts has grown to over 250,000 items including bottles, signs, posters, and machines, as well as the archives which consist of thousands of books, magazines, periodicals, photographic images, and letters. The transfer of the Dr Pepper Snapple Group Collection to the custody of the Dr Pepper Museum added over 100,000 items. The Museum has acquired several large collections from donors across America. Today the Museum has one of the largest and broadest collections of soft drink history and memorabilia in the world.
The Museum is continuing its efforts to preserve, protect and expand these collections by seeking additional donations of objects and archives representing the length and breadth of the soft drink industry. To address our long-term preservation needs, we are currently soliciting contributions to establish a $1,000,000 endowment.
Free Enterprise Educational Programs
As an educational institution dedicated to the teaching of the principles of the American system of free enterprise economics, the Museum continues to find ways to reach more teachers and students. The Hillcrest Conference Center and an outreach vehicle added in 2015 has helped the museum to accommodate more public and private school children for our Free Enterprise Institute programs. Renovation and expansion of the Free Enterprise Institute’s public exhibits on the Museum’s 3rd floor is planned for 2019.
The exhibits at the Dr Pepper Museum & Free Enterprise Institute represent a unique cultural and entertainment asset to the City of Waco and Central Texas. Relocating the collection storage, administrative offices, and visitor services (gift shop, food, and fountain) from the Museum’s original building to the East Wing allows for the development of additional exhibits in the historic “Home of Dr Pepper.” Temporary exhibitions planned for 2017 (World’s Fairs) and 2018 (Eat Well Play Well) will be placed in newly renovated spaces on the Museum’s 2nd floor.
The opening of the East Wing addition has made it possible for the Museum to take advantage of Waco’s expanded tourism market. Increased attendance has boosted admissions, gift shop, and soda fountain revenues to record levels.
To take maximum advantage of this growth and to provide adequate collections care, new programs, and exhibitions, the Museum is working to grow a larger and stronger financial base of contributions. The Museum’s endowment funds must be expanded from $800,000 to $2,000,000 during the next five years.