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Thompson to lead the Georgia Museum of Natural History

Alan Flurry

University of Georgia professor Victor Thompson has been appointed the Executive Director of the Georgia Museum of Natural History (GMNH), effective August 1, 2024. Thompson is a Distinguished Research Professor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of anthropology and the current Director of the Laboratory of Archaeology. 

The home of more than a dozen distinct collections, facilitating research for professionals, training students, and providing service to the state of Georgia, the GMNH is the largest collections repository in Georgia.

Since 2004, Byron 'Bud' Freeman has served as the GMNH Director, where he began as Curator of Zoology in 2000. A senior public service associate in the Odum School of Ecology, Freeman has guided the museum into the present era, coordinating a variety of new endeavors to leverage the collections of archaeological, biological, geological, and paleontological materials, including most recently in 2023 beginning the laborious process of digitizing the collections. Bud will continue his work with the museum as Senior Advisor to the working group recently charged by the provost to review and make recommendations on the preservation and use of the museum’s affiliated collections to advance the University’s research, teaching, and service mission.

"The University of Georgia extends enormous gratitude for the work Bud Freeman has accomplished in leading the Museum of Natural History for the past quarter-century – a period in which the millions of years of natural history represented in our collections can now connect with a virtual and unlimited future audience," said Anna Stenport, dean of the Franklin College. "His steady guidance and unwavering advocacy have grown both our collections and the philanthropic support necessary to secure them into this new era where they can be celebrated and shared more widely than previously imagined."

Thompson has served as Director of the Laboratory of Archaeology since 2019, leading efforts to produce scholarship on the archaeology of Georgia. The Laboratory is organized within the Franklin College’s department of anthropology, which is the state’s only Ph.D. program in anthropology with a focus in archaeology. The Laboratory is the state’s oldest and largest archaeological research and collection facility and has long worked in concert with the GMNH.

"The past provides an opportunity not only to contemplate where we come from, but also to chart a course towards our future," said Thompson, who also serves as research associate at the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History. "I could not be more excited about this opportunity to aid in the development of our museum collections at UGA, and to build an environment that provides a nexus for descendant communities, students, global research experts, and the public to collaborate and discover the intricacies and intersections of our natural and cultural worlds."

Image: Georgia Museum of Natural History


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