With quite a long list of nationally acclaimed artists, legendary performers and best-selling writers calling Mississippi home, it’s no surprise art of all forms is in abundance and the state’s creative landscape continues to thrive and inspire. Mississippi’s creative culture is vibrant, fostering a multitude of opportunities to appreciate and celebrate the state’s distinct cultural heritage.
visual art and museums
For a comprehensive view of visual arts in the state, start in Mississippi’s capital city where the Mississippi Museum of Art houses the world’s largest collection of art by and relating to Mississippians, and their culturally diverse heritage. For a closer look at traditional and contemporary Mississippi crafts, head to Ridgeland’s Mississippi Craft Center to view and shop for crafts created by the state’s extraordinary artisans.
The Gulf Coast Region is steeped in destinations with deep artistic and historical significance including the state’s first art museum, the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art in Laurel. The museum is still home to an impressive collection of 19th century European art, Japanese wood- block prints, and 19th and 20th century American art.
The Walter Anderson Museum in Oceans Springs is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the works of Walter Anderson who spent most of his life painting the flora and fauna of the state’s coastal region, and is recognized as an American master painter of the 20th century. Time your Ocean Springs visit to the Peter Anderson Arts and Crafts Festival, a celebration of the famed potter and visit his studio, Shearwater Pottery, still operated by his descendants. Biloxi’s Ohr O’Keefe Museum celebrates another Mississippi master potter, George Ohr and the diverse cultural heritage of the Gulf Coast. This mission is served through compelling exhibitions as well as a variety of art classes open to the public.
Pottery is a celebrated art form in the Delta Region where there’s a sense of tradition in each piece crafted from the region’s clay soil. Head to Peter’s Pottery in Mound Bayou for pottery crafted by the talented Woods brothers that captures the rich earth tones of the Mississippi Delta.
In Merigold, visit the hub of the internationally recognized and award-winning McCarty’s Pottery, established by Lee and Pup McCarty, recipients of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters.
Performing arts and theater
There’s no shortage of performing arts opportunities in the capital city, where the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, Mississippi Opera and Mississippi Ballet host regular performances at venues such as the historic Thalia Mara Hall. The hall hosts traveling Broadway shows and this year will host the USA International Ballet Competition, when the world’s elite ballet dancers will convene for captivating competition and performances.
The Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra hosts performances and esteemed guest performers at Biloxi’s Saenger Theater.
For a wide range of live performances, visit Festival South in Hattiesburg, a multi-week festival held in June featuring events across the spectrum of the arts including music, dance, art and theater.
Also in Hattiesburg is the historic Saenger Theater, an elegant entertainment venue on the National Register of Historic Places.
World-class acts are drawn to Meridian to per- form in the MSU Riley Center for Education and Performing Arts. The Riley Center is home to the Meridian Symphony and offers artistic and cultural experiences in the center’s exquisitely restored grand opera house theater.
Film festivals and the silver screen
Visit the Canton Movie Museums for a “behind-the-scenes” look at the town that played backdrop to movies such as A Time To Kill, My Dog Skip and O Brother, Where Art Thou? among others.
Just south of Canton is the capital city where you can tour locations as seen in The Help across Jackson’s historic Belhaven neighborhood and colorful Fondren Historic District.
Jackson hosts the Crossroads Film Festival each spring, an independent film festival showcasing more than 100 independent films, as well as regional and Mississippi film.
Benoit’s The BABY DOLL HOUSE on Hollywood Plantation is a grand Delta home of particular interest both for its historical significance and as the location of the controversial 1956 film Baby Doll.
Stop by Greenwood for another tour of the historic homes and locations seen in The Help, with an insider’s look at the town’s hot spots for cast sightings.
Celebrities and visitors alike travel to the Hills Region for the annual Oxford Film Festival, established to celebrate and promote the art of independent cinema. In nearby Tupelo, celebrate the art of film during the Tupelo Film Festival, held each spring in conjunction with the Mississippi High School Film Competition.
The annual Mississippi Book Festival draws thousands for a “literary lawn party,” on the grounds of the state capitol, complete with author events, readings and other book lovers’ celebrations. Nearby Ridgeland hosts the annual Ridgeland Fine Arts Festival, an exciting spring weekend of events showcasing some of America’s finest artists, chosen by a panel of independent jurors.
In the Hills Region, Oxford’s rich cultural heritage and historic downtown square are at the center of two annual festivals celebrating the town’s thriving creative culture. In January, Pop-Up Oxford literally pops up for a week of events ranging from live music and book signings to appearances by the Ole Miss Basketball team. Inspired by the double decker bus imported to Oxford from England in 1994, the Double Decker Arts Fest is a two-day, spring celebration of local food, music and the arts.
Over in Starkville, April brings the annual Cotton District Arts Festival, an anticipated event in celebration of art, music and food in the Pines Region, including a juried art competition, writer’s village, pet parade and 5k.
West Point’s Annual Prairie Arts Festival, a summer celebration of fine arts, crafts, Southern cooking and music, is held in conjunction with the Black Prairie Blues Festival, an event promoting the state’s blues heritage and memory of blues artist Howlin’ Wolf.
It’s a special opportunity to visit the homes and backdrops that inspired the written works of some of America’s top authors. In Jackson, visit the Belhaven home and garden of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Eudora Welty.
Take a short drive north to Yazoo City, a Delta town formerly home to renowned author Willie Morris. Morris is buried in the historic section of Yazoo’s Glenwood Cemetery, but it’s the legend of the “Witch of Yazoo” made famous by Morris’ book Good Old Boy which continues to draw curious visitors.
Rowan Oak, the stately home of Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner is located in Oxford, a picture-perfect town that’s been called the “literary center of the South.” Inside, view the outline of Faulkner’s famous novel A Fable, written in his own hand on the study wall.
Start at the birthplace and first home of playwright Tennessee Williams at the Tennessee Williams Home and Welcome Center in Columbus. Next, relish in the opportunity to visit the John Grisham Room at Mississippi State University where visitors get an uncommon glimpse into the international best-selling author’s background and creative process.
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