Pioneer Museum of Alabama names new executive director

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Pioneer Museum of Alabama’s board of directors unanimously named Kari Freeman Barley as the museum’s executive director at its May meeting.

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Barley has worked at the museum for five years and has served as the museum’s interim director for the past nine months. Board Chairman Jeff Kervin said the board is confident that Barley is worthy of filling the role of executive director.

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“Kari has done a very good job as interim director and, as the museum moves forward, the board felt that it was important to have the position of director filled,” Kervin said. “The board was unanimous in its decision and we look forward to working with Kari on a permanent basis.”

Kervin said that Barley’s vision for the pioneer museum is in concert with the board’s vision.

“The museum is strongly and solidly rooted in the history of our community and we want to continue to educate people of all ages about pioneer life in Alabama,” he said. “We are losing a lot of the history of our county and our state, prior to 1950. The museum can play an important role in keeping that history alive. We are committed to preserving the past through education and under the directorship of Kari Barley.”

The museum’s executive director said that she is passionate about history and dedicated to preserving the pioneer history of Alabama.

“It is an honor for me to named director of the Pioneer Museum of Alabama and to help carry on the tradition that Mr. Curren Farmer started 41 years ago,” Barley said. “Our mission is an important one and we all take it very seriously – our board, our staff and our volunteers.”

Barley said her vision is for the Pioneer Museum of Alabama to be a destination for those who are interested in the pioneer history of Alabama.

“We have more than 18,000 artifacts in the museum and 22 historic structures on the grounds,” she said. “My vision is to, one day, have re-enactors, demonstrators and crafts of the past every day so that the Pioneer Museum of Alabama can be a fulltime living history museum. Of course, that’s down the road but it is my vision. And, I want the Pioneer Museum of Alabama to be place for families to come and spend time together, learning and having fun.”

Barley said that her focus is on education and she will work diligently to bring school groups and other youth groups to the museum.

“It is so important for young people to know about the people who pioneered our state and about their way of life,” she said. “At the Pioneer Museum of Alabama, we tell their stories and bring their way of life to life.”

Barley is a native of Pike County and a 2006 graduate of Charles Henderson High School. She said that it was fate that brought her to the pioneer museum.

“Five years ago, I was looking for a job and the museum was the last place I looked that day,” she said. “They were hiring and I got the job as the gift store associate. I fell in love with history and with the museum and all of those who work so hard to make it all that it can be. We are family here and I’m so proud to be a part of that family. I’m committed to the board’s vision for the museum and to mine.”