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.
The leading receiver in NFL history, the leading passer in NFL history, and the patriarch of football's first family all have something in common—a few things, actually. Not only do Jerry Rice, Brett Favre, and Archie Manning all hail from the Magnolia State, but all three are also inductees in its Sports Hall of Fame. They share the honor with nearly 300 other legends, including winners of Olympic gold medals and World Series games. Visitors can learn about these athletes through exhibits and touchscreen kiosks, or they can head to play areas to have a chance to complete a game winning pass, strike out a batter with the game on the line, make a game winning shot, or kick a game winning goal.
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.
What began as a small art association?originally assembled to organize an exhibit of local art?eventually blossomed into a full-scale museum as its art collection grew. Today, works by world-renowned artists share space with masterpieces by Mississippians in a museum committed to making the visual arts more accessible for the community at large.?
The Building: After decades in its original location, the museum was moved to a new space in 2007. A transparent door and entryway enables outsiders to see the visitors inside the space, a play on the museum's mantra to make it a "museum without walls."
Permanent Mainstay: The Mississippi Story celebrates art by Mississippians and includes photos by Eudora Welty, works by William Hollingsworth, and a collection of quilts.
Don't Miss: 19th-century portraits includes works by British artists Thomas Lawrence and Thomas Sully; works by master artists Picasso, Mir?, Chagall, and Rembrandt; as well as a collection of pre-Columbian artifacts.
In the Open Air: Outside the museum, take a stroll through The Art Garden, more than an acre of green space peppered with outdoor art installations and a performance stage.
Past Exhibits: Spacious Skies featured 14 painted or drawn landscapes culled from the permanent collections of such artists as John Sloan, Will Henry Rivers, Elaine Galen, as well as the museum's first painting, William P. Silva's The Shower.
Pro Tip: At the monthly workshop Look and Learn with Hoot, kids develop the skills for art literacy through an art activity and story time.
Special Programs: Almost 30 affiliate museums throughout the state regularly feature artwork from the museum's permanent collection.
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.