AP NEWS

Mississippi city wants visitors to participate at museum

April 28, 2018
Howard Sherman, husband of famed actress Sela Ward, and candidate for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Roger Wicker, arrives at the Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience Center in Meridian, Miss., for the Grand Opening Gala, Friday, April 27, 2018. (Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star via AP)

MERIDIAN, Miss. (AP) — Another Mississippi city is making a big bet on cultural tourism as Meridian opens the $50 million Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience .

The institution is funded by state and local governments and private donors. It aims to transcend being a static museum, focusing on live programming such as music, dance, art classes, writing workshops and even yoga.

“This is a ‘do touch’ museum,” CEO Mark Tullos told The Meridian Star during a recent preview tour, as he described a large stained glass painting in the museum’s church display.

It opened with a black-tie event for benefactors Friday, followed by a members-only day Saturday, and the first opening to the public Sunday.

Among the initial exhibits celebrating Mississippi’s artistic heritage are a series of life-like sculptures of blues and jazz artists by Sharon McConnell-Dickerson of Como, Mississippi

One main focal point is a rotunda that houses a Hall of Fame of Mississippi artists and musicians, with massive portraits of Elvis Presley, William Faulkner, B.B. King and others.

Meridian follows in the footsteps of other Mississippi communities seeking to bank on their cultural heritage. They include the Grammy Museum Mississippi in Cleveland the B.B. King Museum in Indianola and the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale. Communities hope to draw tourists who will stay at hotels and spend money in stores and restaurants, providing an economic boost. The MAX, as backers call it, aims to anchor some of that tourism, suggesting driving tours of arts-related sites across the state.

The 19 full-time and 20-part employees of the MAX have been hustling to get ready for the opening, installing the last exhibits only this week. The 58,000 square-foot (5,400 square-meter) glass-faced building is tucked in between the railroad tracks and Front Street in downtown Meridian.

Admission is $14 for adults, $12 for students, seniors and active military members and $8 for children ages 6 to 17. Children 5 and under are free.

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Information from: The Meridian Star, http://www.meridianstar.com

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