2 Mississippi Museums
2 Mississippi Museums consist of two separate institutions in distinct buildings that share a common entrance and lobby and even a common sensibility. Located just blocks from the state capitol in Jackson, Mississippi, The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and the Museum of Mississippi History aim to tell the story of the state’s history in an honest, unflinching manner. The Museum of Mississippi History chronicles the story of the area going back to 15,000 BCE and brings it into the present day. It portrays highlights in the state’s history including statehood, the Civil War and its aftermath, and The Great Depression leading into World War II and the civil rights movement. The collection was formerly housed in the Old Capitol Building before the building suffered severe damage as a result of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum is the only museum in the country to tackle the upheaval of the civil rights movement from the vantage point of a single state. Focusing on the tumultuous years of 1945 to 1970, the museum goes into detail to illustrate the struggle for equality and the effort to move past the restrictive Jim Crow laws put in place after the Reconstruction period. The last of the eight galleries is poignantly entitled “Where Do We Go From Here?”, reminding visitors that the movement is far from finished.
Herter Design Group was honored to contribute to the effort to bridge these two museums by designing wayfinding and donor recognition programs for the common spaces between the two institutions. All of the signage identifying spaces like the gift shop, cafe, and exterior plaza express this duality through the use of different weights of Stymie, a modern typeface that recalls classic American fonts like Century Schoolbook. The lettering on each part of the signs were created using different techniques; one word would be etched in the dark statuary bronze and then infilled while the other word was cut out. This specific bronze was chosen in part because its neutral appearance coordinates well with the galleries in either museum.
The donor recognition wall that greets visitors in the shared lobby illustrates the many becoming one. Each name is etched in the same dark statuary bronze as the signs but the donor names are mounted at different depths, creating a sense of forward movement and dimensionality. While each donor occupies their own space, they are united together, moving toward the future of Mississippi and away from the darker days portrayed in the museums on either side.
Client: Mississippi Department of Archives and History
Design Architect: Perkins+Will/The Freelon Group
Architect of Record: Eley Guild Hardy Architects, Cooke Douglass Farr Lemons, PA, and Dale Partners.