History Has a Home
By Morgan Gates
I was finally able to get over to the new Mississippi History Museum this weekend, so I thought I would venture a few miles to the east of Vicksburg and write a blog or two about this long-awaited building.
The new Mississippi History Museum in Jackson, opened in December, to coincide with Mississippi’s Bicentennial. It has been a long time coming but it is was worth the wait. Mississippi is arguably one of the most historic states in the Union at the state has no shortage of excellent museums, including among others, the Old Court House Museum and the Lower Mississippi Valley Museum in Vicksburg. The Elvis's Birthplace Museum in Tupelo, Beauvoir in Biloxi, B.B. King in Indianola, The Agricultural Museum in Jackson and many more both large and small. Each interprets a different slice of Mississippi's diverse and rich history. The Central Museum, the one that tells Mississippi's history as a whole, however, has been missing piece of the puzzle for more than a decade.
Our story of homeless artifacts begins in the late summer of 2005 when Hurricane Katrina barreled ashore on the “Landmass between New Orleans and Mobile” as one national media weatherperson phrased it, that we otherwise know as the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The storm made landfall about 150 miles south by southeast of Jackson. Your average garden variety hurricane is usually little more than a gusty rainstorm by the time they are that far inland, but our girl Katrina! She reached Jackson while still at hurricane at strength. And she ripped much of the copper sheathing from the roof of the Museum’s previous home, the Old Capitol Building. Causing the artifacts removal to safe storage until repairs could be made. With much of the southern half of the state in ruins, it took a while for repairs to be made.
The old Mississippi State Capitol building, which served from 1839 – 1903 is a historical artifact in and of itself, so when restoration funds became available in 2006, it was decided that this Grand Old Dame would better serve to tell her own story! When she reopened in 2009, she did just that. One Vicksburg connection in the Old Capitol Museum; on the wall in the old Governor's office are the names of every man who served in that role during the building's tenure, the first name is Alexander Gallatin McNutt of Vicksburg! The Old Capitol is now a great new addition to Mississippi's interpretive history, but still, no building was available to tell the whole story. So, a brand-new construction began to rise right behind the Old Capitol to house and expand upon the artifacts of the Mississippi History collection. Coupled with the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum housed in the same building but with its own wing, two for the price of one so to speak, the Museum is now open, and Mississippi's history once more has a home! Go check it out some time. http://www.mmh.mdah.ms.gov/
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