Keeping her father’s dream alive fuels Director of the Hank Williams Museum Beth Petty’s work at the downtown spot dedicated to the country music legend.
What drew you to your position at The Hank Williams Museum? In 1976, I observed my father, Cecil Jackson, sorting through old records, books and yellowed newspapers. I asked him “What are you going to do with all this old junk?” “I hope it will go in a museum for Hank Williams one day,” he said. He was one of the most dedicated fans of Hank Williams and has been involved in every facet of the Hank Williams legacy. He directed the installation and dedication ceremony in 1991 of the life-size bronze statue of Hank in Montgomery. He also helped with the formation of a boyhood home museum and was instrumental having a portion of I-65 designated the “Hank Williams Memorial Lost Highway.” Finally, he established the Hank Williams Memorial Foundation, and on February 8, 1999, the Hank Williams Museum opened.
What all does your job involve? My main duty is to protect, preserve and honor the legacy of Hank Williams, which includes acquiring exhibit collections and designing exhibits; conducting tours and workshops for the public; cleaning and maintaining artifacts; conducting public relations, marketing and fundraising; designing and creating souvenirs; and more.
What is your favorite piece of Hank memorabilia? A little blueish-gray pocket songbook from WSFA. It was daddy’s No. 1 prized possession. And, the 1952 baby blue Cadillac convertible is the museum’s centerpiece.
What’s a rewarding aspect of your work? Making lifelong friends from around the world and seeing the joy Hank’s music brings to those who grew up with it and the younger generation of fans. I love getting to hear the stories of those who knew Hank (there are not many left).
What are your interests outside of work? My husband and I love traditional country music and like to support the local musicians. We also like to travel to other parts of the country to support the musicians who come here to support the Hank Williams Museum.
Worldwide Appeal The Hank Williams Museum welcomes an average of 20,000-25,000 visitors from around the globe each year.