Thirty-six iconic objects from the MDAH museum division collection will be featured in a limited-time exhibit March 23–April 29 at the Old Capitol Museum. From the Clarksdale Bell used for trade by Spanish explorers in the 1500s to the flip flops worn by a female Freedom Rider incarcerated at the Hinds County jail in 1961, this collection gives visitors a tangible glimpse of Mississippi’s history. Many of these items have not been seen since Hurricane Katrina forced the closure of the Old Capitol in 2005 and won’t be seen again until the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and the Museum of Mississippi History open in 2017.
The fundraising gala, A Walk through History, will offer a sneak preview of the exhibit as well as a private viewing of the rare twenty-star flag that flew over the United States only in 1818, the year after Mississippi became the twentieth state. Sponsored by the Foundation for Mississippi History, the black tie optional event will be held on Thursday, March 22, 6–9 p.m. at Old Capitol Museum. Tickets are $100 per person. For tickets call 601-576-6885 or make a contribution online and designate your gift as “Walk Through History.”
“We want to build an awareness of the two museums project,” said Trey Porter, MDAH Director for Community Relations. “Right now there are only abstract images/drawings of the museums. It’s very conceptual. This is a chance to bring out the collection and give people a taste of what they’ll see and the stories they’ll hear at the museums.”
The gala kicks off the Foundation for Mississippi History’s fundraising campaign for the new museums. Exhibit costs for each museum are estimated to run $7.5 million. Fifty percent of the total cost, $15 million, must come through fundraising efforts.
The 2011 Legislature and Governor Haley Barbour worked together to provide $40 million in bond funding for the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and Museum of Mississippi History. The department will oversee construction of the museums next to the William F. Winter Archives and History Building on North Street.
In 2017, MDAH will open the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in celebration of the state’s bicentennial. The Museum of Mississippi History will tell the story of the state from prehistory through the current day. The Civil Rights Museum will focus on the period 1945-70 and tell the story of the struggle for equal rights and fair treatment under the law.