The public is invited to the much-anticipated grand opening of the Union County Heritage Museum addition this Sunday, November 5, from 1:30 – 3 p.m.
“We are grateful that the project is competed and that the public can come in the front door and tour the facility on which we have worked so long and hard ,” said Jill Smith, Museum Director. During the construction phase of the project, the museum has remained open for business most of the time but the front access has been closed for several months.
“We will have refreshments, live music and facility tours Sunday, and the Society membership and the general public are welcome.”
Planning for this project began in 2009 when the first meetings and discussions were held. Following that, preliminary drawings were done by a group from the School of Architecture at Mississippi State University. Eventually, as funding allowed, an architect was hired from the firm of Mills and Mills Architects, PC of Greenwood and New Albany, MS.
A $500,000 grant from the Mississippi Legislature in 2014 brought about a flurry of fundraising to match the amount so that the museum addition project could begin in July 2015. The Board of Directors of the Union County Historical Society are still working to raise funding to pay for the approximate $1.1 million and 6,000 square foot addition to the museum, bringing the total indoor square footage to almost 11,000 square feet.
“State funding, private donations and pledges and support from the City of New Albany Tourism Fund and the Union County Board of Supervisors have helped make this museum addition possible, Smith said.”The community has come forward to give, and we are grateful. I have said this many time and truly believe that if we don’t tell our stories, who will?”
There are gallery sponsorships still available and other funding opportunities for donors who would like to help.
Members of the board of directors of the society who are the backbone of this project include Vance Witt, President; Jim Henson, Vice President and Building Committee Member; Lynn Madden, Secretary and Building Committee Member; Betsey Hamilton, Treasurer and Building Committee Member; David Collins, Anne Stephens, Bill Rutledge, Sam Mosely, Leann Tate George, Amy Creighton, and Jack Dalton. They have all served throughout the planning and construction phase of the project. “We are fortunate to have such a wise, thoughtful and dedicated board. This project could not have been successful without them, “Smith said.
Included in the museum addition is the tribute to New Albany’s native son, William Faulkner. The Faulkner Library houses the Coffey Family Collection of Faulkner first editions and related research materials. A large gallery and meeting room affords the capacity to seat and feed more than 100 people and a large catering kitchen is included, as well as an archives room, a collection conservation room and a galley which will tell the stories of “How We Work.”
Another exhibit design is the Creative Spirit Exhibit that features the many Union Countians who have done big things in art, music, literature, film, fashion, invention and more. There is an area designed as Inspire Quest, which will be a place created especially for children. All three of these exhibits are still in progress. There are sponsorships available. The Sports Wall of Fame is another area of sponsorship opportunity, she said. The new addition also includes new offices for museum staff and a patio seating area.
Renovations to Faulkner Literary Garden also took place during the museum’s expansion. Grants from the Mississippi Heritage Hills National Heritage Area allowed work to be done in the garden, not only increasing its size, but allowing for brick walks, more plants and new interpretation. Private donors have given sculptural pieces to further enhance and interpret the themes of the literary garden.
The museum is located at 114 Cleveland Street in New Albany, and is open regularly Tuesday through Friday from 9 – 4 and on Saturday from 10 – 3. For more information call 662-538-0014 or go to the website at www.ucheritagemuseum.com.
More on the addition project: How it began