SOURCE: Museum of Mississippi History

Sanderson Strategies Group

SOURCE: Mississippi Civil Rights Museum

September 30, 2013 12:05 ET

Mississippi to Break Ground on State History and Civil Rights Museums

JACKSON, MS--(Marketwired - September 30, 2013) - Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and civil rights leader Myrlie Evers will be among the elected officials, civil rights activists, teachers and school children participating in the ground breaking for the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum at 10 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 24 in Jackson, Miss.

The Museum of Mississippi History will explore the sweep of the state's history from earliest times to the present. The adjacent Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, the nation's first state-operated civil rights museum, will examine the struggle for equal rights and fair treatment under the law in Mississippi.

The two museums, which will share public spaces and classrooms, are scheduled to open in the fall of 2017 as the centerpiece of the state's bicentennial celebrations. Mississippi's original history museum was closed and its artifacts moved into storage after Hurricane Katrina peeled off its copper roof and damaged the building and many artifacts in 2005.

Myrlie Evers, former chair of the NAACP, widow of civil rights leader Medgar Evers and a member of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum Scholars Committee, said, "Medgar's story and the stories of thousands of others will be preserved and honored in the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. By understanding what others did, future generations will be inspired to continue the hard work for equality and justice."

"I have been privileged to witness the progress our state has achieved since the dismantling of the 'closed society,'" said former Gov. William F. Winter, a member of the foundation board for both museums. "These state-of-the-art museums will capture that journey along with the earlier struggles as Mississippians formed a state, fought a war, rebuilt an economy, and created cultures that still exist today."

"No state has more stories to tell than we do -- from the history of Native Americans, to the Civil Rights Movement, to the legacy of our renowned musicians and writers," said H.T. Holmes, director of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, which will manage the museums. "These two museums will highlight and make personal that rich history."

The site of the museum complex -- which has been 15 years in the making -- is also part of the story told by the museums: The buildings overlook the Mississippi state fairgrounds where civil rights activists were arrested and herded into cattle pens to await transfers to overcrowded jails during the Civil Rights Movement.

Both museums will feature state-of-the-art audio and visual experiences. Visitors entering a jail cell theater in the Civil Rights Museum will hear stories of activists jailed during the movement; in another gallery they will experience the consequences of "crossing the line" in Jim Crow Mississippi. Visitors to the Evolving Vision Theater in the Museum of Mississippi History will sit on cotton bales while sounds, lights and visual effects evoke a bustling wharf. Music lovers can revel in the sounds of B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Elvis Presley, Jimmy Buffett, Leontyne Price and others.

The museums will feature such unique artifacts as a miniature chess set molded from bread handed out to Freedom Riders at Parchman prison, a rare 1818 20-star U.S. flag, an original Bowie knife, and the last bottle of Moet and Chandon champagne sold in the state before the imposition of Prohibition.

Museum curators are appealing to the public for additional artifacts and documents for the museums, particularly from the era of the civil rights struggle. The museums recently obtained an ornate garnet and gold necklace donated by descendants of a Union soldier who stole the jewels from a Jackson home during the Civil War and recorded details of the theft in his diary.

The groundbreaking on Oct. 24 will include a daylong festival celebrating Mississippi culture, music and food. School children from throughout Mississippi will be invited to participate in activities and games.

For interviews or more information about attending the ground breaking please contact Molly Moore at or 1-202-682-3700.

For more details about the museums please see fact sheet below or visit

Museum of Mississippi History/Mississippi Civil Rights Museum

Fact Sheet


Constructed side-by-side on North Street in downtown Jackson, the two museums will share space including a lobby, auditorium, store, and classrooms. The complex is being designed by ECD -- an architectural consortium composed of Eley Guild Hardy; Cooke Douglass Farr Lemons, Ltd.; and Dale Partners -- in consultation with the Freelon Group.

Work on the shell of the building could begin as early as November and will take eighteen months to complete. Phase two, including interior construction, will last sixteen months. The two museums will open in 2017.

Economic Impact

The Mississippi Development Authority's Tourism Division estimates the two new museums will welcome approximately 180,000 visitors each year. These visitors will create a projected annual tourism impact of $17.1 million in tourism expenditures, 231 direct tourism jobs in the three-county region with an estimated $6.3 million payroll, and 92 indirect jobs with a $3.3 million payroll, contributing $1.2 million to the State General Fund. Even before the museums open, the Mississippi Development Authority estimates the employment and economic impact of construction to be approximately $50 million in total brick and mortar with 500 direct and 275 indirect jobs. Construction is projected to create $24 million direct and $13.2 million indirect wages and contribute $2.4 million to the State General Fund.

Museum of Mississippi History & Mississippi Civil Rights Museum


In 2011 Governor Haley Barbour worked with the Mississippi Legislature to provide $38 million in bond funding for construction of the shell of the two museums. The Legislature required a dollar-for-dollar match to pay for exhibits and interactive galleries. MDAH has budgeted $20 million for artifact acquisition and exhibit design, fabrication, and installation. The Foundation for Mississippi History and the Foundation for the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum are working to raise $10 million in private funds for the exhibits. An additional $4 million will be raised to fund permanent endowments for the educational programs and artifact acquisition and conservation. Additional bond funding will be needed for phase two of the project.


Exhibits for the Museum of Mississippi History are being designed by the Design Minds, Inc., of Fairfax, Virginia. Hilferty & Associates of Athens, Ohio, is designing the exhibits for the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. Both exhibit teams are working closely with project architects, MDAH staff, community advisors, and scholars to develop storylines for the exhibits. These will be among the most technologically advanced exhibits in the nation.


The two museums will feature artifacts and documents from the collection of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, which was founded in 1902. MDAH has the finest collection of Mississippi artifacts in the world, including a rare 1818 twenty-star U.S. Flag, an original Bowie knife, slave-made quilts, and prehistoric Native American artifacts. Exhibits will also draw on the department's extensive collection of photographs, newsfilm footage, maps, diaries, and manuscripts. MDAH staff is looking for items to add depth to the stories told in the two museums.


For high-resolution images of the 2 Mississippi Museums project, email or call 601-576-6998.

Contact Information