As we reflect and learn from the tragedies of the past and hope for a brighter future, Mississippi will be opening two incredible museums this year: the Civil Rights Museum of Mississippi and the Museum of Mississippi History. Today, we are pleased to share an article from the 2017 issue of Inspiration Mississippi Magazine, outlining these two extraordinary museums.
The Civil Rights Museum of Mississippi and the Museum of Mississippi History celebrate the joys of our past, honestly depict our devastating stories, and offer a wealth of healing and hope for Mississippi’s future. Lucy Allen, Museum Division Director for the Department of Archives and History, smiles, “These museums are really two parts of the whole story. They work beautifully together.”
The mission of these extraordinary museums is Education. Allen says, “Our goal is to have every child, from Kindergarten through the twelfth grade, have the opportunity to visit these museums. This is so important to us.”
Together, the museums boast over 40,000 square feet of permanent exhibits and 8,000 square feet of temporary exhibits. The Civil Rights Museum of Mississippi is the first state supported and state operated Civil Rights Museum in the nation. The exhibits are cleverly incorporated into the building’s striking architecture and design.
The Civil Rights Museum of Mississippi concentrates on what occurred in Mississippi and the nation between 1945 and 1976. Allen says, “We have very difficult stories to tell. But we are very honest. The community expects that and we expect it of ourselves.”
At the heart of the Civil Rights Museum lies This Little Light of Mine, a lovely place of reflection and peace. Visitors will stand in awe of a stunning sculpture, producing soft light and music. Stephanie Morrisey, Director for Outreach and Communication, says, “On the exterior, the museum’s large windows and rooftop oculus allow a beacon of line to shine out from the sculpture inside. This illumination symbolizes individual and community light that shines on the heroic struggles of the Movement.” The beam of flight will glow over the capital at dusk, accentuating the building. Allen adds, “This Little Light of Mine is the theme of the museum. Everyone has a light to shine; it is a reminder to treat everyone with respect.”
One of the last galleries focuses on where we are now and where we go from here. Allen smiles, “We hope this will promote and foster racial recognition and hopefully healing.”
Visitors to The Museum of Mississippi History will embark on a journey from prehistoric times to modern day. Museum Visitors will first enter a round theater, gather around a campfire and hear about the powerful stories awaiting them. With a resonating theme of One Mississippi: Many Stories, Allen says, “This is a starting point to tell visitors that Mississippi is very diverse. We have different cultural groups, but we are one Mississippi with many stories that make up what our state is about.”
The museum will feature three Breakout areas. The first tells the story of American Indians through their own voices. The second concentrates on various wars, from the War of 1812 through the modern conflict in the Middle East. The final Breakout is the soul of the state, highlighting our music, written word and performing arts. A Mississippi juke joint will charm guests with live music and incredible artifacts.
What magnificent additions to the state of Mississippi; each museum will also be a gateway for visitors to learn about other museums, historic sites and cultural experiences across the state. “When these museums open, many eyes will be upon us,” smiles Allen. “We will be ready to share our stories with the world.”
For more information on the Civil Rights Museum of Mississippi and the Museum of Mississippi History, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.mdah.ms.gov/2MM/