News Column

Grant helps Ocean Springs Museum kick it up a notch with new exhibit, staffing

June 6, 2014

By Karen Nelson, The Sun Herald

June 06--OCEAN SPRINGS -- The Ocean Springs Museum is holding its first exhibit since a major BP grant kicked its operations up a notch.

The city museum, tucked into the west wing of the Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center on Government Street, had been struggling after Katrina with director Betty Magee begging and borrowing for exhibits.

But $192,000 grant received in January enabled her to hire a staff of three and set the museum on a road to accreditation, something only five museums in Mississippi have.

The grant was tied in part to the operation of the Charnley-Norwood House, an architectural gem in Ocean Springs because the late-1890s beach house is the nation's first example of modern residential architecture. But what the grant has done for the city museum has helped secure its success.

The new exhibit, "Inns of Eden," charts the now-gone hotels in the city during the heyday of the local medicinal springs -- 1890 to 1905. Magee and curator Pat Pinson designed it to let visitors feel what it would be like to walk into one of those hotels.

Charnley-Norwood House's famous architect, Louis Sullivan, called Ocean Springs' beachfront Eden when he set out to design the special house to match, Magee said.

The Inns exhibit chronicles the same era.

Magee said because the museum is more solidly established, leaders are calling upon residents to open their closets and donate or loan their historical treasures. The rally call: "This is your history."

The Inns exhibit opened Thursday and will be up for six months.

"This is a big move forward for us. And it's time," Magee said.


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Source: Sun Herald (Biloxi, MS)

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