For area leaders, Saturday's celebration was the culmination of years of planning and months of construction and renovation.
"I think it's fabulous," said Hazel Mobley, a member of the museum's advisory board. "I'm glad it's not only going to be artsy, but will include our history, too. It's a long time coming."
Saturday's event was invitation-only. The museum's public grand opening is today. It will be open from 2 to 4 p.m. At center stage is the Smithsonian Institute's Museum on Main Street program "Key Ingredients: America by Food."
"The Smithsonian told us that we had more applications than any other state that is hosting this exhibit, so that makes it even more important that Thomson was chosen to be a host site, because it was very competitive," said Arden Williams, a program officer for the Georgia Humanities Council.
Officials point to the museum as one more step in revitalizing downtown Thomson. The old First National Bank of Thomson and pharmacy buildings on Main Street have been remodeled into a state-of-the-art facility. SunTrust donated the bank building to the effort.
"SunTrust was very accommodating with their donation of this building, in making this possible," said former Thomson Mayor Bob Knox Jr., who serves on the museum board.
Sponsored and created by the Smithsonian Institute and the Georgia Humanities Council, the Key Ingredients exhibit focuses on how Americans produce, prepare, preserve and present foods. The exhibit also will focus on foods prepared in the region.
Members of the humanities council came to Thomson last summer and interviewed cooks featured in a book that accompanies the exhibit. Thomson is one of 12 sites in Georgia that will show the exhibit.
The museum can be contacted at (706) 595-9923 or (877) 595-9923. Admission is free.