Randy Spurgeon: Museum Man  

Written by Meghan Gattignolo, Visitor Services Manager

Every museum needs a Randy Spurgeon.  

With his calming personality, top-shelf dad jokes and intense sci-fi pop culture knowledge, Randy exists in his own category. He has worked as Exhibit Preparator under Exhibit Curator Terri Jordan at the Customs House Museum & Cultural Center for 23 years, since July 1, 1999. Now, he’s decided it’s time to start a new chapter and retire from Museum life. 

Randy is a prolific diorama creator and scale model enthusiast. Every diorama you see inside the Museum was designed and constructed by Randy Spurgeon. The Civil War Destruction of Palmyra scene in the Becoming Clarksville exhibit is Randy’s, as well as the Wild West scene and the Grange Tobacco Warehouse found in Memory Lane. Randy has also created dioramas for temporary exhibits. A few years back, he made an impressive 1/6 model of the Apollo moon landing for an exhibit celebrating the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s first steps. For the Start Your Engines racing exhibit of last summer, Randy recreated a photograph of Clarksville race car driver Cave Johnson Jr. standing next to his winning car.   

Randy standing with his Start
Your Engines diorama.

The Civil War Destruction of Palmyra scene in the Becoming Clarksville exhibit

Originally from Oregon, Randy moved to Clarksville as a child when his father was stationed at Ft. Campbell. As an adult, he relocated to Florida and worked at Disney World for seven years. Randy started as a quick-sketch and caricature artist at the park, and later worked in the studios as a prop and scenery designer. One project he’s particularly proud of is a Cambodian Tiger, currently on display at Disneyland Japan. When Randy moved back to Clarksville with his wife and kids, he spent time creating scale models of buildings with an architecture company. It was during a job hanging wallpaper that Randy discovered an opening available at the Museum.    

Randy has had a lot of fun working at the Museum, from office parties to exciting projects like Museum Man, a fundraising campaign Randy was involved in. He played an Indiana Jones-esque character in a video to promote the funding of a planned renovation about eight years ago. The renovation didn’t happen, but the character of Museum Man lives on, in conversation and in a life-sized cardboard likeness of Randy that occasionally still makes an appearance. Randy says what he’s going to miss the most about working in the Museum, though, is his coworkers. 

Randy enjoyed working with the train crew on the model train exhibit

Curator of Education Sue Lewis will remember Randy for his puns and his good-natured sense of humor. Aside from his practical help with putting exhibits together, Terri will miss Randy’s penchant for misadventure, like the time he was trapped in a freight elevator for an extended amount of time while picking up some large exhibit installations. Everyone will miss Randy’s wife’s yummy desserts.  

Randy looks forward to working on his artistic passions during post-Museum life. He’s an accomplished watercolor artist and wants to spend more time creating beautiful art. Of course, he is also excited to work on more miniature creations and scale models, including multiple models of the Enterprise from the Star Trek franchise. Randy has acquired a lot of knowledge about the Museum and Clarksville history, and he’s quite passionate about the subject. With his multiple interests, accomplishments in art and love of history, Randy embodies the spirit of the Customs House Museum & Cultural Center. Those of us who have had the pleasure of working in the same building as him for any length of time will miss him dearly. However, Randy will never be truly gone from the Museum, as Terri Jordan points out. We will always find his imprint on the exhibits he helped assemble, as well as in the Jeff Purvis car display in the Challenge and Champions exhibit – the cardboard pit crew was made using Randy’s image. 

Learn more about Randy, his works and contributions to the Museum in this fantastic piece produced by the Clarksville Community Network:

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