Greve returns to head Pioneer Museum

Published 10:31 pm Friday, May 27, 2011

Rachel Jordan Greve is coming home to Pike County as director of the Pioneer Museum of Alabama.

Greve, a Brundidge native, will take the museum reins on July 1. She is presently director of the Brenham Heritage Museum in Brenham, Texas where she lives with her husband, Brian.

Jeff Kervin, Pioneer Museum of Alabama board chair, said the board is proud to have Greve on board.

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“We are looking forward to working with Rachel,” he said. “She has a wealth of experience and, being from the area, we think will be a good opportunity for the museum. We are optimistic that she will be the best thing for us a long time and will fill some shoes that need to be filled. She will represent us well in the community.”

Greve didn’t try to hide her excitement about coming home to Pike County and to the Pioneer Museum of Alabama. It was there at the (then) Pike Pioneer Museum that little Rachel Jordan knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life.

“The Pioneer Museum of Alabama is very special place for me,” Greve said. “Just thinking about how special it is, I was proud that I didn’t cry during my interview with the museum board.”

When Greve was in first grade, she visited the Pike Pioneer Museum and was so impressed by what she saw and learned that she decided “right then” that she wanted to be an archeologist.

“I know what an impact a museum like this can have on young people,” she said.

“It has the ability to change and shape lives. It has such a great mission. The spirit of those pioneers, those settlers, hits home and to the core of what makes the people of Alabama who we are.”

Greve said during her first few weeks as director of the Pioneer Museum of Alabama, she plans to meet with the museum board, staff and volunteers and get feedback from them.

“So much has been done right at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama for 40 years, so I want to hear from them what works, what could be improved and the critical areas of need,” Greve said. “I want to know about the successes and the weakness. I want to listen and I want to work to help make their dreams and desires happen.”

Greve’s personal goal is to create an environment that will make the museum a family destination.

“I want to make the Pioneer Museum of Alabama a place in Pike County and Troy where families come for a time of fun, learning and togetherness,” she said.

Greve brings 10 years of museum related experience to the museum.

She is a graduate of Pike County High School and holds a bachelor’s degree in social science/anthropology from Troy University.

After college she moved to New York where she did an internship with a non-profit organization.

“There I got to take underserved kids to museums, cultural centers and theaters,” Greve said. “That was my own independent studies program.

“Living in New York was a new experience for me. There were more people living on the floor in my apartment building than there were in all of Brundidge. I liked it there but I really want to come back to the South.”

Greve accepted her first museum experience with the Department of Arkansas Heritage and lead youth and family programs at the Old State House Museum.

In 2001, she procured museum exhibits and programming employment at Cosmic Cavern Underground, a “show cave” and underground karst museum in the Ozark Mountains near Eureka Springs.

In 2007, Greve took advantage of the opportunity to manage a colossal volunteer corps at the esteemed Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum and IMAX Theatre in Austin, Texas.

Two years later, she accepted her first museum directorship at the Brenham Heritage Museum.

“The Brenham Heritage Museum reminds me of the Johnson Center for the Arts,” Greve said. “It was built by the federal government in 1915 to house the U.S. Postal Service. The distinctive Classical Revival-style building became the Brenham Heritage Museum in 1991.”

Although Greve said she has been enjoyed Texas and her work there, she had a longing to get closer to home and family.

“My mother read in the newspaper that Jerry Peak (Pioneer Museum of Alabama director) was going to retire and she called me immediately,” Greve said.

“I applied and was asked to come for an interview. But it wasn’t really like an interview. It was more like a brainstorming session.

“I fell in love with the museum again and wanted so much to be a part of it. I laughed and said that even if I had not gotten the job, I want to be an ad hoc board member.”