MMA, Mayor Reveal 'Downtown Cultural District' Plans

[verbatim statement] (Jackson, Miss.) — In a press conference today, Mayor Harvey Johnson and the Mississippi Museum of Art revealed plans for the Museum to relocate into the Mississippi Arts Pavilion. The Museum will begin renovations on the building this summer and plans to move into the building in November 2006. Both the Museum's current facility and the Pavilion are city-owned buildings. The move into the Pavilion will double the Museum's exhibition space and increase spaces for educational and social events.

"This is a great day for the City of Jackson," said Mayor Harvey Johnson. "It is exciting to see the Museum of Art join the progress being made in downtown Jackson. The Museum has been an important part of our downtown since 1978, and now it will join the other corporations investing in an even greater downtown Jackson."

Jerry Host, Chairman of the Mississippi Museum of Art Board of Trustees, said that the Museum has engaged in a 16-month planning process that examined the necessity for additional space. "This move enables the Museum to continue it mission: to attract visitors to a vibrant downtown Jackson, to display more of its outstanding collection of art from this state and beyond, and to educate even more children in the visual arts," said Host.

At the press conference, the Museum unveiled renderings which depict the new Museum as the fulcrum of a downtown cultural district, extending from Thalia Mara Hall to the Telecommunications Center, including the Arts Center and offices of the Mississippi Opera, Mississippi Symphony, and Ballet Mississippi, Davis Planetarium, and the planned Capital City Convention Center. The plans also propose a green park area between the new and existing Museum, uniting Thalia Mara Hall to the Convention Center site.

"This exciting complex will offer yet another attractive gathering space in downtown Jackson, serving as a magnet for tourists, convention visitors, and arts audiences," said John Lawrence, president of Downtown Jackson Partners.

Betsy Bradley, director of the Mississippi Museum of Art, said that this move is part of the natural growth of an organization which has been active in this community for more than 100 years.
"Since 1903 when the Mississippi Art Association was founded, citizens in our community have built a dynamic organization which has evolved into a leading cultural institution in this state, serving 14 affiliates statewide, hundreds of students in after-school, summer, and spring break art programs, social service agencies, tourists from across the region, and residents from all wards in the City of Jackson. Whether it's an art therapy program or an internationally acclaimed exhibition like the latest Hearin presentation, Paris Moderne, our Museum is responding to the people of this state with entertaining and meaningful programs, connecting art to their daily lives," said Bradley.

Carolyn Shanks, President and CEO of Entergy MS, praised the Museum for its commitment to the cultural life of downtown Jackson: "The Mississippi Museum of Art is emerging as a leader in the arts and entertainment industry in our state. This move will position the Museum as an economic engine that will enhance the improvements being made in our downtown and serve as a catalyst for other developments."

"Renovating a space which has housed international exhibitions such as the latest Glories of Baroque Dresden makes good sense," said Bud Robinson, chairman of the Mississippi Commission for International Cultural Exchange.

"This transition demonstrates the Mississippi Museum of Art's appreciation for
the benefits of exhibitions held in the Pavilion and the museum-quality programs it contained. To continue to use the building for showcasing beautiful artifacts and attracting visitors to our state builds on the legacy created by the Commission in mounting the special exhibitions we have been privileged to share. I have full confidence in the Museum's ability to continue to increase its impact on our state," added Robinson.

The Museum will begin renovations this summer, investing at least $2 million from state bonds in improvements to the Pavilion. When completed in 2006, the facility will open with a restaurant, sales gallery, and exhibition, education, and reception areas.

The Museum will continue to operate daily in its existing building until the opening of the new facility. For more information about the relocation, please contact Gloria Watkins, Public Information Manager, City of Jackson, Tel: 601-960-1146.

The Mississippi Museum of Art and its programs are supported in part by the city of Jackson and The Arts Alliance of Jackson & Hinds County. Support is also provided in part by funding from the Mississippi Arts Commission, a state agency, and in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

The Museum is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. The Mississippi Museum of Art is currently located at 201 East Pascagoula Street. For more information, call the Museum at 601-960-1515 or 1-866 VIEW ART (843-9278), or visit the Web site at http://www.msmuseumart.org
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