Museum of Art expands to Vicksburg

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 28, 2005

Susan Lloyd McClamroch, left, affiliate coordinator for the Mississippi Museum of Art, explains to Ellen Emmich and Randy Barlow how the conditions for paintings at the Cobb House will improve with track lighting as they look at “The River at Vicksburg,” a painting by artist Caroline Compton. (Jon Giffin The Vicksburg Post)

[1/28/05] The Southern Cultural Heritage Complex is now the home of selected artwork from the permanent collection of the Mississippi Museum of Art.

The Cobb House, built in 1830, is the 14th affiliate site throughout the state for the museum, and adds “art museum” to Vicksburg’s cultural inventory.

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“This means that throughout the year, exhibits by renowned artists from the museum’s collection will be displayed right here in Vicksburg,” said Bess Averett, SCHF director.

More than 200 people welcomed the exhibit Thursday night with a reception and tour of the opening pieces including featured artist Caroline Compton of Vicksburg, Walter Anderson, William Hollingsworth, Marie Hull and Eudora Welty.

“I hope everyone here feels this extraordinary feeling as I do tonight. This is a special night for Vicksburg as our community starts to realize its true potential in the arts,” said Mayor Laurence Leyens.

Museum Director Betsy Bradley said the exhibit adds to Vicksburg’s rich cultural heritage.

“The museum has such a wonderfully rich treasure trove of nearly 4,000 pieces, many of which we don’t have room to display. Our affiliate sites help us share local artwork with the communities and create a partnership in the visual arts,” she said.

Vicksburg residents viewing the artwork were excited about the exhibit.

“It’s wonderful for Vicksburg to see an exhibit like this, especially with more to come. This building is wonderful. We’re lucky to have it restored to its original state,” said Becky Cook.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for our city. These are fabulous pieces, which make a great representation of our history not only in Vicksburg, but in Mississippi as well,” said Ellen Emmich.

The Cobb House is the oldest building on the SCHF block. It is used for small social, cultural and educational events and touring. The foundation received a grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History in 1998 to restore the exterior of the building. In 2001, matching funds of $200,000 from the department and $60,000 from the City of Vicksburg and Warren County were awarded for restoration of the interior.

The final phase of restoration of the building was completed in October, but Averett said more updates necessary to house the artwork are on their way.

“Ameristar has generously donated $10,000 for us to apply ultraviolet filtering film on the 25 windows for protection of the art work and to install track lighting for the pieces, the wiring for which is already done,” she said.

She hopes the additions will be complete in the spring.

“A lot of people get nervous and intimidated when they visit a museum if they’re not familiar with various pieces and artists, but this will give the community a comfortable place to come experience fine art,” said Averett.

“We’ve lucky to have this building completely restored, and we’re very excited to have an opportunity such as this for its use,” she said.

The SCHF is housed in buildings dating to 1860 that were St. Francis Xavier Academy and a convent of the Religious Sisters of Mercy. The complex was purchased by the City of Vicksburg 10 years ago and is managed by the foundation, which offers classes, guest lectures, exhibits and rental spaces for special events.