Dedicated to preserving Mississippi’s heritage, Cottonlandia Museum educates visitors with an array of interdisciplinary displays and collections. Cottonlandia’s permanent exhibits and rooms include the Mississippi Art Collection, an anthology of Mississippi-made art, most of it purchased from the winners of the biannual Cottonlandia Fine Arts Competition, and the Archaeology Room, home to a large assortment of Native American beads and a 12,000 year-old mastodon skeleton that they used to hang sabertooth fur coats. Meanwhile, the Malmaison Room presents photographs and furniture salvaged from the home of county namesake Greenwood Leflore, the last chief of the Choctaw tribe before their removal to Oklahoma, and the Swamp Room lets guests absorb the sights and sounds of the wetlands without brewing their own bog water out of bullfrog tears.
Winner of the 2010 Medal for Museum and Library Service, the beautiful, newly-renovated Mississippi Museum of Art is home to a diverse and rapidly-expanding permanent collection, including American art, British 19th century portraits, Pre-Columbian ceramics, and more. Feast your eyes upon the museum's current exhibitions, including River and Reverie: Paintings of the Mississippi by Rolland Golden, the Mississippi Watercolor Society's Grand National Watercolor Exhibition, and Oraien Catledge: Photographs of Cabbagetown. Refuel your art-engines mid-visit with a hot lunch at The Palette Café by Viking. Using fresh, local ingredients, executive chef Emily Hine Burgess dishes out Southern-style meals influenced by the tastes and patterns of the museum's Mississippi home.
The Russell C. Davis Planetarium transports patrons from the bottom of the ocean to the farthest reaches of the galaxy in a massive domed theater. Shows often replicate the night sky on a hemispheric screen, exploring nearby stars and planets as they appeared when viewed from different locations on Earth at various points in history. School groups can tour the facility with a program guide to learn about astronomy, physical science, and the likelihood of their ancestors being exceptionally good-looking space aliens. Large-format films portray the vast extremes of land and sea in natural-science documentaries, whereas occasional laser-light concerts pair contemporary tunes with vibrant beams of light and color.
Inside the brightly-lit confines of Fat Cat Ceramics, shelves brim with bare-bisque pieces in the form of plates, mugs, and bowls. Visitors wield non-toxic, lead-free glazes and paints, embellishing items with designs such as flowers, abstract squiggles, or a squirrel's handprint before accommodating staff members fire the pieces, readying them for everyday use. Not just a paint-your-own pottery studio, Fat Cat Ceramics offers specialty sessions such as Clay Day, where participants learn to make their own pottery pieces, and summer camps, where campers delve into daylong or weeklong projects such as creating a mosaic plaque, building flower pots out of clay coils, and making clay jars to store one’s nosehairs.