2009 Annual Report

A Note from the Director

At the Department of Archives and History we will remember 2009 as the year the Old Capitol reopened. That was indeed an extraordinary event, highlighted by the legislative opening day January 7. But Fiscal Year 2009 also witnessed a number of other exciting events and developments here at MDAH. Through exhibits, programs, outreach, and online resources, MDAH reached hundreds of thousands of people throughout Mississippi and beyond. I want to thank the Governor, the Mississippi Legislature, and the Congressional Delegation for their support for the work of this department. This report will highlight some of the work we have accomplished together over this past fiscal year.

"New" Old Capitol Opens to the Public

Schoolchildren, legislators, and generous donors all joined in celebrations marking the reopening of the Old Capitol, Mississippi's most historic building. The Old Capitol had been closed since August 2005, when the building was badly damaged by Hurricane Katrina. The building has now been completely restored and features brand new exhibits.

The Mississippi State Senate and House convened in their historic Old Capitol chambers January 7, 2009, for only the second time in more than a century. Remarks by Governor Haley Barbour and former governor William Winter highlighted the session. Legislators had gathered the night before for a reception celebrating this historic occasion and honoring the architects, exhibit designers, and workers who had participated in the restoration project.

On February 7 Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant joined students from George Elementary School to cut the ribbon, and the building opened to the public. Nearly 800 people visited the new museum, admiring the stunning restoration that returned the building to its nineteenth-century appearance, and experiencing the new exhibits. The Old Capitol's opening events were underwritten by the Foundation for Mississippi History, a nonprofit organization that raises funds to support the work of the Department of Archives and History.

While the "old" Old Capitol had housed the state history museum with exhibits covering Mississippi's entire history, the "new" Old Capitol now focuses on the history of the building itself. Nearly every space in the building has been interpreted historically and opened to the public. Exhibits explore the distinguished history of the building and the events that have taken place in it. Interactive exhibits give visitors a sense of the political discourse during that fascinating era when all three branches of state government were housed in the Old Capitol.

Since the opening in February, more than twenty thousand people have toured the Old Capitol, including visitors from all 50 states and 76 foreign countries as well as tourists and school groups from across Mississippi.

Legislature Establishes Construction Fund for New Museum of Mississippi History

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