The first half of this year has been extremely busy at the Museum of the Mississippi Delta.
We started the year with a renovation of the archaeology gallery that was completed one day before the arrival of the traveling exhibition “For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights.” Opening on April 4, this National Endowment for the Humanities traveling exhibition, developed by Mid-America Arts Alliance, told of the power held by advertising firms, television and the print media to influence attitudes about race. Images of African Americans were usually associated with people in the service of whites, because there was so little opportunity for anything else.
The exhibition brought back a lot of memories for people, some of which were uncomfortable. For others, it brought back fond memories, such as the couple who were personal friends with photographer Gordon Parks and were delighted to see his image at the beginning of the exhibit.
In the end, everyone was touched by something they saw or read.
Seven programs produced by the museum and funded by the Mississippi Humanities Council complemented the exhibition, each extraordinary in their own way. From scholars and locals participating on the Emmett Till panel to Scott Barretta spinning a 78 RPM record during the “Movement,” everyone was affected. To artist Jason Bouldin speaking to six of us in front of his painting of Medgar Evers, tearing up saying how he felt he was “bringing him home to the people.” Everyone felt an emotion. To watching kids from the Boys and Girls Club and St. Francis of Assisi perform African-influenced dance choreographed by Erin Mulligan, each was moved.
In my 34 years in the museum field, the past seven weeks have been one of the most rewarding for me.
But we’re not slowing down. In fact, we’re gearing up for the opening of the new Children’s Discovery Room. You’ll be excited to see what past and present members of the Junior Auxiliary of Greenwood are helping to design. It’s going to be awesome! JA’s generous contribution to the Museum is coming to fruition. We’ll keep you posted on the date.
Beginning July 9, the museum is resuming Summer Discovery classes for ages 5 to 7 and 7 to 9 year olds. Children participating will learn about Mississippi animals, critters, native peoples and archaeology. They’ll also take a trip to Egypt via a program by Sela Ricketts. You can go to our website www.museumofthemississipi.com to sign up.
The museum is celebrating its 50th year. In November, we will host a party to celebrate that milestone. We are so grateful to all of you who continue to support us. We’re looking forward to the next 50 years.
• Cheryl Thornhill is the executive director of the Museum of the Mississippi Delta. Contact her at email@example.com.