The Mood-Heritage Museum, located at Southwestern University in Georgetown, was established in the fall of 1978 with the assistance of a planning grant provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The remodeling of Mood-Bridwell Hall enabled Southwestern to allocate five rooms on the first floor for the museum. A museum committee was organized, and a state invitational meeting, sponsored by Southwestern University and the Texas Historical Commission, was held at the university on September 22 and 23, 1978. At that meeting a board of managers was appointed by the university president, and officers were elected. The museum's name was chosen to honor the memory of Francis Asbury Mood, the first regent of Southwestern, and to recognize the Georgetown Heritage Society, a partner in the enterprise. Mood-Heritage Museum grew out of a collection begun in 1973 during the centennial celebration of Southwestern University's location in Georgetown. This collection and an exhibit of world-religion artifacts became the nucleus of the current collection, which is designed to document and represent the history of Southwestern University and to treat the character and evolution of Georgetown and its environs. The museum also serves as an educational resource for community groups and institutions. In this regard it often sponsors special activities and field trips for public school children.
The museum collection includes some 5,000 current items and artifacts, including material relating to the history of Southwestern University and its union colleges-Rutersville College (1840), Wesleyan College (1844), McKenzie College (1848), and Soule University (1856). Other collections include a collection on natural history and early Indian materials, photographs and documents of Georgetown, the Hanks collection of primitives, the J. W. Edgar collection of jazz records, early collegiate and literary-society publications, and an archival collection of Mood's university annuals and scrapbooks. In addition, the museum occasionally borrows special exhibits from other museums and institutions, such as the University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures in San Antonio, the Republic of Texas Museum in Austin, and a moon-rock exhibit from NASA. In addition to the permanent collections, the museum presents an annual Hall of Honor recognizing university and civic leaders of the past and a jazz concert drawing from the Edgar collection of early blues, jazz, and swing recordings. The museum also issues publications about its acquisitions, including regularly published reports of exhibits and special events, and special publications such as a collection of the writings of J. Frank Dobie, a graduate of Southwestern University.
The museum has been a private enterprise from the beginning. Its only regular income is the interest from an investment of a gift of $5,000. Other income is derived from donations and from sales of museum and university publications. The Mood-Heritage Museum is administered by a fourteen-member board of governors and staffed by a director, a curator, and volunteer docents. Housing and services are provided by Southwestern University on the first floor and atrium of Mood-Bridwell Hall. The museum holds membership in the Texas Association of Museums. In the spring of 1994 the collection was put in storage until renovations on its new location in the Cook-McCrain building were completed.