More than 200 species swim through the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, and that's just the facility's aquatic residents. Beyond the aquarium network sprawls an abundance of plant and animal life both indoors and out. A trip through the museum campus reveals Mississippi's diverse ecosystems, as well as their relationship to humans.
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.
One of ESPN's ten best baseball museums and one of Jackson's top ten attractions, the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum takes visitors through more than 21,000 square feet of exhibits and interactive displays. Travel back to the days of the Gashouse Gang with one of the best collections of Dizzy Dean memorabilia in the world, or leap forward in time at the Participatory Room, which allows fans to measure how fast they throw a baseball, kick a football, and spit a watermelon seed. Visitors can also try their hands at play-by-play broadcasting in the Cingular Wireless Broadcast Experience, and learn about the lives and achievements of such Mississippi sporting luminaries as Walter Payton, James "Cool Papa" Bell, and Archie Manning.
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.
Mimi's Family & Friends compiles a crowd-pleasing menu of simple breakfast plates and time-tested deli items to fuel local diners during morning and midday pit stops. For early appetites that rise alongside Apollo's flaming chariot, the quiche of the day ($7.50) sates baked egg cravings, and cups of cheese grits ($2.50) provide a hearty compliment to stout sips of french-press coffee ($2 for a small). During workday halftimes, lunch selections inspire energy-filled afternoons with leafy forkfuls of the club salad ($7.25), buttery bites of a ham or turkey and swiss croissant ($6.75), or creole-spiced spoonfuls of red beans and rice ($7.34). Bread pudding with brandy sauce ($2.50) or the cobbler of the day ($2.50) both excel as sugary desserts, and cobblers of the night patrol the back alleys enacting vigilante justice on common criminals.
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.