Mississippi Architect, September 1964: At the Beginning of the Mississippi Museum of Art

Ligon-Gale House (Municipal Art Gallery). Photo by Bill Gatlin, MDAH, 9-9-2011. Retrieved MDAH Historic Resources Database 9-4-2012.

Most of us have probably been to the Mississippi Museum of Art in downtown Jackson for one reason or another. For a small-state art museum, they put on some pretty big shows while also keeping it real with their Mississippi collection. In fact, in just a couple of week’s the museum will be highlighting the work of Mississippian William Hollingsworth (1910-1944). Hollingsworth was instrumental, along with several other Mississippi artists and writers such as Marie Hull , Karl Wolfe, and Eudora Welty with building up the Mississippi Art Association (which as you recall published the very helpful History of Art in Mississippi in 1929).

The MAA found a home in the Ligon-Gale House in 1927, recently listed on the National Register as the Municipal Art Gallery, but as you can see in Bob Henry’s editorial in the September 1964 issue of the Mississippi Architect their collection had outgrown their quarters by the 1960s. In fact, according to a history of the Mississippi Museum of Art, the association had started talking about building a new home in the early 1950s. Even still, it would be another 14 years after this plea in the Mississippi Architect before the dream would become reality. Opened in 1978, the new Mississippi Museum of Art (called the Mississippi Arts Center) combined with a planetarium that spans Lamar Street was designed by Jackson Modernist architect Tom Biggs of Biggs, Weir. As many of you know, the Museum more recently moved across the parking lot into the renovated Mississippi Arts Pavilion building that they used to use for the big international exhibits such as the Palaces of St. Petersburg (my first) and the Splendors of Versailles.


Art Gallery Needed

Interest in architecture necessarily implies interest in art.

The Mississippi Art Association is working enthusiastically on the purchase of land and plans for the construction of a desperately needed new Mississippi Art Gallery. This is an endeavor that should have the interest and support of all Mississippians who are concerned with the cultural growth of our state.

The present gallery houses a collection of valuable paintings and the building-an old residence-is a firetrap. It is imperative that these paintings be reposited in safe quarters.

Some of the statewide benefits of a new gallery are enumerated by the Association as follows:

*circulate original art objects throughout the state.
*encourage and assist cultural groups in developing art projects in their communities
*conduct workshops
*provide adequate facilities for storage and shipping, thereby enabling the Association to share with other Mississippi cities the Association’s permanent collection.
*receive and show the best traveling exhibits including originals by the Old Masters
*stimulate interest and learning by showing fine art to the school children of Mississippi
*enhance cultural advantages for all Mississippians
*attract tourists.

We encourage you to show your interest by becoming a member of the Mississippi Art Association in one of the following categories:

Individual         $3 per year
Couple               5
Student              2
Artist                  6
Patron             25
Sponsor         50
Donor           100
Life            1,000

Regular       $10 per year
Special          25
Patron         100
Sponsor      500
Donor       1,000

Make your check payable to the Mississippi Art Association. Mail it to Box 824, Jackson, Mississippi and DO IT NOW.

– Bob Henry


This article is reprinted from the September 1964 issue of the Mississippi Architect, with permission from the Mississippi Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. View the full September 1964 issue of Mississippi Architect in a digitized format, or for other articles in this ongoing series, including the pdf version of each full issue, click on the MSArcht tab at the top of this page.

Categories: Architectural Research, Jackson

2 replies

  1. Let’s celebrate the progression of the MMA from cozy firetrap to more suitable and professional edifice (however awkward) to larger, better home!


  2. Wow!!! Thanks for posting this — hopefully Mississippian’s sentiments regarding “the cultural growth of our state” lives on….

    Question: is this history in relation to the Municipal Art Gallery/Arts Center of Mississippi/Mississippi Arts Center visible somewhere at the buildings?

    The Mississippi Museum of Art has a similar, expanded, version of this history on their website here: http://www.msmuseumart.org/index.php/aboutus/page/history-of-the-mississippi-museum-of-art <— also, a link to this page and/or Henry's 1964 article would be incredibly useful. Cheers!


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