Mississippi’s Best Contemporary Art Galleries And Museums
With ambitious programs of exhibitions and educational events, Mississippi’s museums, galleries, and cultural centers represent the region’s vibrant heritage and showcase the work of contemporary talents. Supporting local artists and encouraging community engagement with the arts, these are ten of the best places to see art in Mississippi, from Jackson to Oxford and Biloxi.
Story Gallery Image courtesy of Mississippi Museum of Art
Courtesy of James Patterson
Fischer Galleries is the personal venture of gallerist Marcy Nessel. Located in the historic Dickies Warehouse Building in downtown Jackson, the gallery is dedicated to the representation of artists from Mississippi, providing strong support for local artists. Fischer Galleries’ roster continues to grow, and currently includes artists such as William Goodman, Ken Tate, Richard Kelso, Rod Moorhead, Tony Saladino and Cathy Hegman. Exhibitions at Fischer Galleries change most months ensuring a constant stream of diverse artworks, all of which have been carefully and passionately selected by curator and co-founder Marcy Nessel. This busy gallery draws from the vibrant culture and energy of the city and is an active member in the community.
The Lewis Art Gallery in the academic complex of Millsaps College is a key destination for experimental contemporary art in Mississippi. The gallery has two exhibition rooms, with the main space dedicated to special exhibitions focusing on works of installation, printmaking and paper arts, although also displaying ceramics, glass and painting. The smaller space, known as The Emerging Space, is dedicated to experimental new media, film and installation. Exhibitions such as Repetition, Rhythm and Pattern at Lewis Art Gallery often explore the limits of the artists’ chosen media, aesthetic and concept. Distinguished by its high quality exhibition program and encouragement of critical discourse, the gallery features works by artists such as Kim Beck, Megan Cotts, Corey Escoto and Lily Zuckerman among many others in group, solo and student shows throughout the year.
Image courtesy of Lewis Art Gallery, Millsaps College
The Municipal Art Gallery
The Municipal Art Gallery, founded in the 1860s as a stately home and opened to the public in 1926, has become one of the most highly visited cultural venues in downtown Jackson. A focal point for local artists and art lovers, the Municipal Art Gallery provides a platform for contemporary American and Mississippi art. This emphasis on the reflection of local people and their lifestyles through contemporary art is a key and unique feature of the gallery. In addition to this, the Municipal Art Gallery is a strong supporter of both emerging and more established artists, providing a monthly rotating schedule of diverse exhibitions alongside a permanent collection featuring works by Karl and Mildred Wolfe and Marie Hull, among others.
The Mississippi Museum of Art was originally founded in 1911 when the institution was established as the Mississippi Art Association (MAA) by a group of enthusiastic artists wishing to publicly exhibit artwork on a regular basis. Since opening, the museum has embarked on numerous projects and currently offers a diverse range of exhibitions and educational programs supplementing the permanent collection, which has continued to grow alongside the institution itself. The museum’s galleries are equally diverse featuring a broad range of styles including avant-garde and impressionist artworks; some of the exhibited artists include Gwendolyn A. Magee and William Dunlap. The museum also celebrates the merging of artistic disciplines such as visual art, literature and music through events such as Unburied Treasures and jazz gigs.
Negrottos Gallery is noted for its passion for excellence. A premier venue for fine art in Biloxi, the gallery has established a strong reputation for the promotion and representation of top-level local and American artists such as Master Emmitt Thames alongside internationally recognized figures such as Grady Byrd. Negrottos Gallery features high quality works across a wide range of media and styles including pen and ink, sculpture, ceramics, cartoons and silk rope tapestries all of which show an exceptional mastery of medium and technique. Negrottos’ exhibition and events calendar is packed with a regularly changing program of group, solo and themed exhibitions attracting a wide audience of local artists and enthusiasts. The gallery also hosts an artist meet and greet every Saturday, encouraging engagement between local art practitioners and the public.
Combining art, architecture, history and landscape design into one venue, the legacy of namesake master potter George Ohr, self-titled “the Mad Potter of Biloxi,” is aptly preserved by the striking Ohr-O’Keefe Museum complex. Designed by internationally renowned architect Frank Gehry, the complex itself has been commended for its unique design. The addition of stand-alone centres and galleries has also enabled the museum to develop their artistic and educational program creating a unique element to each space focusing on ceramic arts. Through compelling exhibitions of Ohr’s work and that of other artists alongside numerous educational activities, the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum celebrates the innovation, independence and creativity associated with both George Ohr and Frank Gehry.
An expansion the C.W. Woods Art Gallery founded in 1977, the University of Southern Mississippi Museum of Art was established in 1997. The museum now consists of three galleries, the original C.W Woods Art Gallery, the Walter James Lok Gallery and the Karnes-Sullivan Gallery. Presenting artworks by regional, national and international artists of historical and contemporary significance, the venue provides an enriched educational and cultural experience through a carefully curated program of exhibitions, lectures, workshops and symposia given by leading figures in the arts. It holds rotating and touring exhibitions of works by influential collected and guest artists such as William Bailey, Faith Ringgold and Claudia DeMonte in addition to an annual student show featuring works across graphic design, painting, drawing and sculpture.
The Southside Art Gallery in Oxford, Mississippi, is known for displaying works by regional, national and international artists as well as being an active member of the local and regional art community. The gallery presents works of a variety of media and styles including watercolour paintings by Wyatt Waters and ceramics by Yerger Andre, and Ron and Bill Dale. Focusing on fine art and folk art from the Southeast, Southside Art Gallery displays new exhibitions every month and hosts regular artists’ receptions enabling interaction between presented artists and their admiring audience. The gallery further promotes the arts through a lecture series providing a platform for communication and engagement within the arts.
The Figure: Portrait and Symbol, Paintings and Bronze Works by Tom Corbin | Image courtesy of the University of Mississippi Museum of Art
Home to a wide range of Southern folk art, Greek and Roman antiquities, 19th century scientific instruments and American fine art, the University of Mississippi Museum of Art was established in 1939. The museum has expanded several times over the years with the addition of temporary galleries and collection houses, the latest edition being the 2010 Hattie Mae Edmonds Gallery dedicated to folk art from the American South. Many significant artworks by American Modernists can be found within the Museum’s expansive collection including those by Georgia O’Keeffe, Arthur Dove, John Marin and Marsden Hartley. The collection continues to evolve to this day through generous donations from numerous private collectors throughout the region. Through a diverse program of exhibitions, educational and public programs, the University of Mississippi Museum of Art provides strong representation of the region’s arts and cultural heritage.
Dedicated to exhibiting the works of talented Mississippi artists, the Caron Gallery presents a diverse array of artworks which represent the region’s rich and diverse art community. Founded in Downtown Tupelo in 2010 by a husband-and-wife team who had previously been strong supporters of the local art museum and art festivals throughout the region, the gallery provides a day-to-day exhibition opportunity for established and emerging artists. The Caron Gallery has an extensive roster of represented artists working across a wide range of media among which are Elayne Goodman, Jason Twiggy Lott, Sharon Mulligan and Seldon Lambert. Alongside an impressive schedule of represented artists’ exhibitions, the gallery also hosts art workshops and special events throughout the year.