New Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, Museum of Mississippi History will work together to tell the state's story

Sprawling across two museums and including a combined 19 galleries and nearly 2,000 artifacts, the new Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum will work together to tell the story of Mississippi over the last 15,000 years.
“We have been working on these museums for many, many years and we involved a lot of people in doing it; both our staff and consultants who are professionals in building museums, but also scholars and community advisors and teachers,” Katie Blunt the director of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History said. “These museums are the products of thousands of hands.”
The two museums, which will open to the public Dec. 9 in Jackson, share a building and tell the entire story of Mississippi.

Rachel Myers, Director of the Museum of Mississippi History, leads a tour through the newly erected museum Tuesday. The Two Mississippi Museums, consisting of the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, features over 22,000 artifacts and plans to open the doors to public Dec. 9, 2017. (Courtland Wells/The Vicksburg Post)


The state history museum takes visitors on a journey encompassing 15,000 years, from prehistoric times through first contact with Europeans, the birth of Mississippi, the Civil War and through the 20th century and into today.
“Everything just gets a little bit,” Rachel Myers, director of the Museum of Mississippi History said. “There’s definitely some threads and themes that get more weight. Our theme is One Mississippi, Many stories. We really tried to elevate this idea that in each time period we are elevating the stories of women and immigrants and Native Americans and enslaved people and the leaders of the time throughout history.”
Each of the 11 galleries includes a station called “Voices” where contemporary Mississippians give voice to the historical first-hand accounts that have been archived throughout the years.
“You can click on a profile, a biography that was featured during this time period,” Myers said. “These are a way we are able to showcase the collection of the state Department of Archives and History.”
The museum is also working to include the ever-changing stories of Mississippians and allow people to recap their experience in the museum through a feature called Reflections, which is tied to the Voices feature in each gallery.
“Essentially people get to feel ownership over this place and know other visitors will get to hear them,” Myers said. “It gives us some wiggle room. Yes we have 20,000 square feet of exhibition here and we really tried to include a diverse range of stories, but we might have missed some. When someone comes and says ‘I really want to tell the story of my grandmother’s people,’ we have a way to record them.”

Rachel Myers, Director of the Museum of Mississippi History, leads a tour through the newly erected museum Tuesday. The Two Mississippi Museums, consisting of the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, features over 22,000 artifacts and plans to open the doors to public Dec. 9, 2017. (Courtland Wells/The Vicksburg Post)


The artifacts in the museum include items ranging from a 500-year-old canoe and antebellum carriage to household items such as period clothing and children’s toys. At the end of the tour, visitors are greeted by a large image of the state of Mississippi, which includes the pictures of many of the people whose stories were told through the exhibits.
“My goal is by the time you get to this spot, everybody will know the names and the faces of these people and the impact they had and how they define us as a community,” Myers said. “I am hoping people find something that is nostalgic and makes them proud of our state and where we’ve been and where we’ve come.”
The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum starts by telling the story of enslaved Africans and the Civil War and then reconstruction. The story then continues through the period of Jim Crow laws including pillars with the names of men and women who were lynched with a sculpted oak tree as the centerpiece of the exhibit. The museum then takes visitors through the entire Civil Rights movement including the protest, the murders of Emmett Till and Medgar Evers and the black power movement.

Pamela Junior, Director of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, points to a list of lynchings in Mississippi during a tour through the newly erected museum Tuesday. The Two Mississippi Museums, consisting of the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, features over 22,000 artifacts and plans to open the doors to public Dec. 9, 2017. (Courtland Wells/The Vicksburg Post)


The centerpiece of the museum is the “This little light of mine” sculpture. The interactive piece has arms that stretch through each of the eight galleries that make up the museum and lights that track the movement of the visitors. The center of the sculpture in the museum’s main atrium comes alive as more people gather with the lights getting increasingly brighter and a choir singing “This little light of mine” crescendoing into a dramatic performance of light and sound.
“These blades are entangled because from all over the United States people came in (to Mississippi). They were lights,” Pamela Junior, director of the Mississippi Civil Right Museum, said.
The majority of the museum tells the story of African-Americans in Mississippi from 1945 to 1976 and includes artifacts such as the rifle used to kill Evers, a Klan robe and shackles worn by slaves.
“We were ground zero for the movement,” Junior said. “We want people to come to Mississippi. We want them to see our history so when they come out they come out for the better. ”
The eighth and final gallery asks visitors what they felt going through the museum and encourages them to go forward and make a change like the leaders whose stories they heard during the tour.
“It is dark, but it is dark when you go through a tunnel and there’s always light at the end of that tunnel,” Junior said. “That is what you are going to see when you come through the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.”

News

Two people killed after pickup truck, car collided on rural Mississippi highway

News

Woman wanted in South Carolina kidnapping arrested in Mississippi casino

News

Mississippi mother accused of child abuse, now faces capital murder charges in death of 5-month-old

News

Landscape architect accused of defrauding small Mississippi Delta town

News

Leaders of three Mississippi public universities secure new contracts totaling $2.2 million annually not including bonuses

News

Main Streets across Mississippi awarded for outstanding projects, promotions and business in 2024

News

Mississippi man accused of enticing child then using vehicle to strike utility vehicle occupied by child’s father

News

Mississippi reports first case of West Nile virus in 2024

News

Man found dead in his car after initiating chase with Mississippi police

News

Mississippi national park commemorates Juneteenth with luminaria display

News

Watermelon truck fully engulfed in flames keeps Mississippi firefighters busy

News

Manhunt for ‘armed and dangerous’ murder suspect under way from Oklahoma to Alabama

News

Mississippi man arrested, accused of stealing from construction site

News

Popular Mississippi catfish restaurant closes after report of rodents, wastewater leads to failing health inspection

News

Mississippi woman charged with murder of 2-year-old daughter who officials say was ‘forcibly drowned’

News

Mississippi police searching for group of males who attacked victim with bat, robbed him of money and then shot him multiple times

News

Mississippi officials looking for culprits after new outboard motor stolen from boat

News

Mississippi teen charged with rape and burglary after reported sexual assault

News

Mississippi postal worker ordered to repay $80,000 she stole from taxpayers

News

Mississippi man pleads guilty to making antisemitic calls to Pennsylvania Jewish businesses, synagogues

News

Prison safety concerns raised after report of inmate death shows Mississippi man had meth in system while behind bars

News

Three Mississippi teens killed in late night wreck, four others injured in two-vehicle crash

News

Small-town SCORE! New Chick-fil-A coming to Mississippi town with less than 5,000 people

News

15-year-old Mississippi girl arrested after she reportedly attacked sleeping mother with knife