Children’s museums are vital cultural institutions that are committed to serving the needs and interests of children by providing exhibits and programs that stimulate curiosity and motivate learning. Children’s museums strengthen the communities they serve by bringing children, families, and communities together for quality interaction and by collaborating with partnering organizations to create additional resources that will improve the lives and well-being of children. In addition, children’s museums contribute to local economies and reduce economic barriers.
Meridian continues to be an economic and cultural hub for East Mississippi. Long recognized for its importance as a transportation center, Meridian also is significant as the birthplace of Jimmie Rodgers, the Father of Country Music, and combines an industrial history with an appreciation for and support of the arts. Meridian’s industries, leadership within the area, strong community identity, higher education resources, proximity to major travel corridors, and active support of its creative economy make it an ideal site to consider for an extension location of MCM.
Establishing a children’s museum in Meridian is not a new idea. In 2004, the John C. Stennis Institute conducted a feasibility study to locate four museums in downtown Meridian. At that time, a children’s museum was considered. However, the economic downturn tabled this project. Because of the successes of the MSU Riley Center and Meridian’s other flourishing revitalization endeavors, this is an ideal time to consider pursuing a children’s museum because it will enhance these ongoing efforts and meet a specific need not directly addressed by these other projects.
We anticipate that it will be 20,000 square feet with 9,500 square feet of exhibit space in three galleries. They will reflect Meridian and East Mississippi while also incorporating MCM's five educational initiatives.
It is an estimated $12 million project. This figure includes building in a contingency to allow for unanticipated construction/renovation costs as well as establishing an endowment to allow the museum to be able to remediate and renovate exhibits.
The Mississippi Children’s Museum has expertise from planning and executing a successful $26.6 million capital campaign to build the museum. Since MCM is also a member of the Association of Children’s Museums, the museum has access to planning resources from other children's museums across the US which provided additional benchmarks to make good estimates for this project.
A final location has not been determined yet. Several preferred sites are under consideration but further evaluation and work must be completed before a final location can be announced.
The priority in the site selection is what is best for children. These include:
• Safe, secure loading and unloading areas
• Ample parking for cars and school buses
• Available overflow parking for special events
• Green space for outdoor programs and play
• Easy access from travel routes
• Good visibility from the street
• Free of environmental hazards