Jack Kyle has a vision and reputation of bringing international art to Mississippi
Published 5:09 pm Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Jack Kyle refers to Vicksburg as one of the most important “jewels” of Mississippi.
With its location to the Mighty Mississippi, the National Military Park, its historical architecture, rich culture and access to Interstate 20, it is set apart from most other cities in the state.
Thousands travel to and through the Red Carpet City annually and Kyle has a vision of expanding tourism through an international museum to be located in downtown Vicksburg.
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Kyle said plans are for the Mississippi Arts Pavilion to be a landmark structure that will include exhibition halls, permanent galleries, public spaces and a gift shop.
Born in Ruleville, Kyle lived in Minter City most of his life.
He graduated from Leflore County High School in Itta Bena in 1968 and from Delta State University in 1972 with a Bachelor of Music Education degree.
Kyle said his first association to Vicksburg was when he was in the eighth grade.
“We came to Vicksburg on a field trip to visit the Vicksburg National Military Park, the Sprague steamboat, Old Courthouse Museum, and Waterways Experiment Station,” he said, adding, “I have always been very interested in Mississippi history, Civil War History, and American History and found so much historical interest in Vicksburg.”
This love of history has continued with Kyle serving in many roles, including Director for the Memphis International Cultural Series from 1986-1993 and the Executive Director for the Mississippi Commission for International Cultural Exchange, Inc.
In the latter job, Kyle organized the 1996 Palaces of St. Petersburg: Russian Imperial Style Exhibition, the 1998 Splendors of Versailles Exhibition; and in 2004 The Glory of Baroque Dresden Exhibition.
While serving in this position, Kyle said he decided to move to Vicksburg in an effort to broaden his perspective of the River City.
“While in Jackson in my role as executive director of the Mississippi Commission for International Cultural Exchange, Inc., it was very convenient for me to spend more time in Vicksburg to see and learn more about the history and uniqueness of Vicksburg,” he said.
He also purchased a downtown property in which he planned to house an art gallery.
“I purchased the former children’s store owned by Mr. and Mrs. Ellis Koury, in 1999, and renovated the first floor as the Washington Street Fine Arts Gallery,” Kyle said.
And from 2005 to 2006, he renovated the upstairs of the building as a residence.
Kyle said in addition to his Fine Arts Gallery, he created the concept for the Vicksburg International Chamber Music Festival, which ran for a number of years, and had aspirations of building a museum and performance facility.
But after taking a cultural affairs position with the Area Development Partnership in Hattiesburg, Kyle moved to Hattiesburg and sold the building to H.C. Porter in 2007.
Currently, Kyle is the chairman of the Mississippi Commission for International Cultural Exchange, but is focusing on his vision for Vicksburg.
“Vicksburg has so much potential to polish, preserve, and develop so many great assets that it possesses that are unique and lend themselves for the development of many new resources for growth and development which contribute to the viability of creating a major new cultural tourism entity,” Kyle said.
With recent figures indicating that the Vicksburg National Military Park attracts approximately 650,000 visitors annually, Kyle is predicting that the proposed art exhibitions offered by the Mississippi International Arts Pavilion could be a major factor in attracting these visitors into staying a full day in Vicksburg — and hopefully spending the night and spending more money here as well.
“The overnight passenger steamboats who call on Vicksburg brought in approximately 25,600 visitors to Vicksburg in 2017 and this number is expected to grow to 50,000 by 2020 with new boats with plans to call on Vicksburg,” he said.
Kyle said, because Vicksburg sits midway between Dallas/Fort Worth and Atlanta, approximately 47,000 vehicles pass through Vicksburg each day along the I-20 corridor, and a museum of this scale would draw visitors in, Kyle said.
“Vicksburg is already a major tourist destination with a strong tourism infrastructure and the exhibitions presented at the Mississippi International Arts Pavilion will benefit even greater those tourism entities in Vicksburg which already exist,” he said.
Kyle said he has maintained many of his friendships and contacts with leading museum officials in Europe and Asia from his past executive director roles and plans to develop exhibitions from the museums in which these scholars and leaders are affiliated. He’ll also try to expand his contacts with other museum directors and curators around the world.
“The economic impact on the State of Mississippi of the four exhibitions I organized in Jackson exceeded $200 million and this was between the years 1996 and 2004, so this number will be greater in today’s measurement. Jackson was not a major tourism destination and Vicksburg is,” Kyle said.
“And my vision is that visitors who come to Vicksburg to visit the exhibitions of the Mississippi International Arts Pavilion and the important historical attractions will come to know the important role of Vicksburg in American history and also come away recognizing the importance of history and culture held by the citizens of Vicksburg and Mississippi,” Kyle added. “The high bluffs that Vicksburg occupies overlooking the Mississippi River and the magnificent sunsets, the inventory of important historical and unique architectural treasures in Vicksburg, the local cuisine, and the charm and friendliness of the people of Vicksburg will provide lasting positive images of Vicksburg and Mississippi.”
To learn more about the Mississippi International Arts Pavilion, visit msiap.com.