The Two Mississippi Museums—the interconnected Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum—opened December 9, 2017, in honor of the state’s bicentennial. The museums take visitors through the sweep of Mississippi history and the state’s role as ground zero in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. 

The Museum of Mississippi History

Museum of Mississippi History

The Museum of Mississippi History’s theme—One Mississippi, Many Stories—runs throughout the eight galleries that explore the many diverse people who contributed to the state’s history from prehistoric times to present day. The first three galleries highlight the complex societies of Native American people, the exploration and settlement of Europeans and enslaved Africans, and the transition from a territorial period to statehood. The remaining galleries cover the evolution of communities in Mississippi, from the rise of slavery and cotton, through secession, Civil War and Reconstruction, and progress through major twentieth-century events, advancements in agriculture and industry, social change movements, and the dominance of arts and culture. These stories are personalized through the world’s most extensive collection of Mississippi artifacts. 

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The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum

Mississippi Civil Rights Museum

The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum’s eight galleries chronicle the events of the national Civil Rights Movement that took place in Mississippi. In the first and second galleries, a timeline illustrates the history of Africans in Mississippi, slavery, and the origins of the Jim Crow era. Monuments memorialize people who were victims of lynching in the state. The heart of the museum is the third gallery—a central space lit by a dramatic light sculpture that plays the museum’s theme song, “This Little Light of Mine”—highlighting people who laid down their lives for the Movement.

The next four galleries focus on the years 1945–1975. Visitors will see the mug shots of every Freedom Rider arrested in Mississippi and hear the stories of civil rights veterans such as Fannie Lou Hamer, Vernon Dahmer, and Medgar Evers. The eighth and final gallery—Where Do We Go From Here?—challenges visitors to consider their own communities as they reflect on their experience at the museum and observe how the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi has served as an example for movements all over the world.

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