Stories are the way our history has been shared and handed down for centuries. And no state has more stories to tell than we do.
On October 24, we kicked off the construction of an exciting project. The Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, adjoining each other in downtown Jackson, will chronicle our state’s history through the voices and stories of our people—famous and infamous, well known and little known, heroes and scoundrels.
The Mississippi Legislature authorized the construction of these museums in 2011, and for the last two years we’ve been busy with architects, engineers, and museum planners getting ready. The ground breaking ceremony on Friday was the beginning of the long awaited project.
The two state-of-the-art facilities will front an outdoor plaza and share a common lobby, an auditorium for special events---over 300,000 feet including an underground parking garage. The 2 Museums are projected to attract 180,000 visitors a year and generate more than $17 million in tourism expenditures, plus several hundred new jobs and more than a million new dollars going to the state’s general fund. The construction work alone will generate 500 direct jobs with $24 million in wages.
The 2 Museums will not only be a national and international tourism attraction, but also a destination for school children from all over our state. With the restored Old Capitol and the William F. Winter Archives and History Building, the 2 Museums will form a state history center that will serve as a gateway to other historic sites, museums and cultural programs across the state. According to the American Alliance of Museums, visitors to historic sites and cultural attractions stay longer and spend more money than any other kind of tourist.
The Museum of Mississippi History will explore the entire sweep of our history, from earliest times to the present, examining all aspects of our state and our people. Since no story is more integral to our history than the progression of African Americans from enslaved people to leaders in the struggle for civil and voting rights, the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum will examine that story in more detail.
Opening in December 2017 in celebration of the state’s bicentennial, the 2 Museums will be a place where Mississippians come together to celebrate our rich culture, explore our shared past, and meet the opportunities and challenges of our future. We look forward to seeing you there.
Visit our website at www.2mississippimuseums.com and follow us on Facebook to keep up with the project.
Rosemary Williams is a resident of Corinth and Trustee Emeritus of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.