The Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum are two interconnected museums in Jackson that deliver a sweep of Mississippi history and information about the state’s role in the civil rights movement. Collectively, the museums are known as Two Mississippi Museums.
The Museum of Mississippi History explores over 15,000 years of state history through rich and complex stories that illustrate how a shared past influences a future together. The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum shares the stories of a Mississippi movement that changed the nation. It promotes a great understanding of the Mississippi civil rights movement and its impact by highlighting the strength and sacrifices of its peoples.
A lobby, auditorium, classrooms, collection storage, and exhibit workshop are shared by the museums.
“The Two Mississippi Museums is the premier location to explore and understand not only Mississippi’s story, but the nation’s history,” says Laurin Paris, public relations director with Two Mississippi Museums. “Visitors have the unique opportunity to tour two important and impactful museums on one campus. When visitors arrive in a place like Mississippi, a visit to a history museum provides context for the people you meet, the food you eat, and the streets you travel on. Mississippi stories define the spirit of our state, and you can’t fully enjoy one without the other.”
Two Mississippi Museums offers self-guided tours, but groups are always personally welcomed and given a comprehensive overview by a staff member. Civil rights veteran Hezekiah Watkins is a docent at the museums Tuesday through Saturday. He shares his story about being a Freedom Rider and his life of activism.
Eight galleries in the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum chronicle the events of the national civil rights movement that occurred in Mississippi. A dramatic light sculpture plays the museum’s theme song, “This Little Light of Mine”—honoring people who lost their lives for the movement.
The Museum of Mississippi History’s theme—One Mississippi, Many Stories—runs throughout eight galleries that explore the many diverse people who contributed to the state’s history from prehistoric times to the present day.
“Groups appreciate the exhibits that bring up a personal connection or story,” Paris says. “Members of a group are often found in our communal spaces talking about family history and personal experiences, using the artifacts and exhibits as inspiration. Groups often remark on the size and scope of the Two Mississippi Museums and enjoy the experience of learning from so many Mississippi perspectives.”
Paris hopes adult tour groups come away with a better understanding of Mississippi. “I hope they appreciate the many stories shared here that dispel some of the myths and preconceptions people may have had before visiting,” she says. “I hope that as they confront and embrace our history while at the museums, they are inspired to make positive social change. I hope they want to come back to see more!”
Arrangements for group visits need to be made at least two weeks in advance.
For more information on Two Mississippi Museums call 601-576-6800 or go to mdah.ms.gov/2MM.
Main Image: Light sculpture, Mississippi Civil Rights Museum; credit: Two Mississippi Museums