A full spectrum of colorful artists of all kinds—from painters to poets to playwrights—have drawn their inspiration from living right here in our state. Find your own inspiration and stretch your imagination while exploring the arts and cultural attractions that place Mississippi on a world stage.

VISUAL ART AND MUSEUMS

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As the cornerstone of Jackson’s downtown cultural district, the MISSISSIPPI MUSEUM OF ART houses a vast collection of American art from O’Keefe to Warhol, plus powerful pieces by Mississippi’s own talented artists. The ART GARDEN AT THE MISSISSIPPI MUSEUM OF ART, a 1.2-acre adjacent public green space, is filled with outdoor art installations and live performances are often held here. Art even abounds on the museum’s façade in the form of a pop culture-inspired mural by local artist WILLIAM GOODMAN that has become a popular Instagram shot backdrop. Nestled near the Natchez Trace in Ridgeland, the BILL WALLER CRAFT CENTER features traditional folk items like quilts and baskets as well as contemporary pieces including metal sculpture and handcrafted jewelry. A 19th-century building in downtown Vicksburg houses the H.C. PORTER GALLERY, where visitors are invited to explore the award-winning homegrown artist’s vibrant mixed-media paintings.

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Famed architect Frank Gehry designed the striking OHR-O’KEEFE MUSEUM OF ART in Biloxi. Its Gulf-facing twisting steel buildings are filled with the works of local master potter George Ohr. Another local legend is the namesake of Ocean Springs’ WALTER ANDERSON MUSEUM OF ART, which pays homage to the painter’s colorful life spent capturing the beauty of nature along the coast. Walter Anderson’s brother Peter founded SHEARWATER POTTERY in Ocean Springs in 1928. Descendants still produce unique clay pieces at the studio. In Laurel, the LAUREN ROGERS MUSEUM OF ART is known for its collections of Native American baskets, Japanese Ukiyo-e prints and British Georgian silver, as well as paintings by American and European artists. Laurel watercolorist Adam Trest opened ADAM TREST HOME as a retail destination for fans of his detailed illustrations, which grace everything from pillows and baby blankets to totes and mugs.

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Launched in 1954, the simple yet stylish pieces crafted at MCCARTY’S POTTERY in Merigold are coveted as functional collectibles. The rich Delta clay is also the key ingredient in the organically shaped bowls, vases and other interesting pieces by PETER’S POTTERY in Mound Bayou.

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One of the state’s newest and most noteworthy arts venues is the MISSISSIPPI ARTS + ENTERTAINMENT EXPERIENCE, aka “The MAX,” in Meridian. Opened in April 2018, the facility’s interactive exhibits reveal the inspirations behind Mississippi’s many creative superstars.

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Working with needle and thread is an age-old pastime in these parts, but a trio of fiber artists is pushing it in a bold new direction at YALORUN TEXTILES in Water Valley. The space offers sewing supplies along with hands-on workshops in all manner of material arts. Find the perfect paint- ing at CARON GALLERY in downtown Tupelo, which specializes in show- casing Mississippi art in a variety of colorful styles.

PERFORMING ARTS AND THEATER

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Once a movie palace, the 1929 built SAENGER THEATER has been lovingly restored and once again stands as a crown jewel in Hattiesburg, where it welcomes grand stage shows and musical performers.

The GULF COAST SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA in Gulfport draws the musically minded to enjoy classical works both in traditional concert hall settings and in open air venues besides the shore

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For half a century, fans of the performing arts have flocked to THALIA MARA HALL in Jackson to see unforgettable shows by local and visiting talents. The state’s largest professional performing arts organization, the MISSISSIPPI SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, calls Thalia Mara Hall home. Launched the year World War II ended, MISSISSIPPI OPERA is the ninth-oldest continuously operating opera company in the country and regularly puts on elaborate performances with prestigious guest singers. The graceful dancers of BALLET MISSISSIPPI bring to life fairy-tale fantasies on the stage throughout the year. BALLET MAGNIFICAT is the world’s first professional Christian ballet company and holds annual productions around the Jackson area. For a taste of Broadway with a Southern twist, settle into a seat at Jackson’s NEW STAGE THEATRE, which offers a full season of professional shows from classics to cutting edge.

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An elegantly restored 1889 opera house is now the MSU RILEY CENTER in Meridian, which hosts top-notch performers from around the world within its gilded walls

FILM FESTIVALS AND THE SILVER SCREEN

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The city of been christened the  film capital of Mississippi, thanks to its starring role in Hollywood hits including  O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?, A TIME TO KILL and MY DOG SKIP. The newly renovated CANTON MOVIE MUSEUMS welcome visitors in to re-created film scenes—complete with the actual set pieces. In Jackson, see locations from the Oscar-nominated movie THE HELP during including the real-life soda fountain where they sipped milkshakes.”Filmmakers and actors come together with fans in Jackson each spring for the CROSSROADS FILM FESTIVAL, a multi-day movie extravaganza celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Film and the written page collide at the NATCHEZ LITERARY AND CINEMA CELEBRATION, which includes a lecture series, film screenings, exhibits, book signings and more.

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The city of Greenwood also played an important role in the hit film THE HELP. A self-guided driving tour takes fans to locations from the film as well as hotspots where the cast hung out off camera.

Head to the HOLLYWOOD  PLANTATION in Benoit to see THE BABY DOLL HOUSE, a grand antebellum mansion that was the setting of the 1956 film Baby Doll.

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For two decades, creative minds have been honored at the MAGNOLIA INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL in Starkville each spring. Southern films come to life on the big screens of historic theater venues during the RAILS TO REELS FILM FESTIVAL in Meridian each fall.”Tupelo takes on domestic and foreign movies as well as  student creations during its TUPELO FILM FESTIVAL each spring.”

FESTIVALS

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Also known as the “Literary Lawn Party,” the MISSISSIPPI BOOK FESTIVAL turns the grounds of the state capitol in Jackson into a bibliophile’s paradise each summer, welcoming readers to meet authors and enjoy panel discussions.

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Oxford celebrates food, music and the arts at the weekend-long DOUBLE DECKER ARTS FEST each spring. During the winter POP UP OXFORD hosts speakers, exhibits and live music.

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More than 100 artisans bring their wares to the streets for the COTTON DISTRICT ARTS FESTIVAL in Starkville each spring. The event includes music concerts and a culinary arts experience known as TASTE OF STARKVILLE. West Point’s PRAIRIE ARTS FESTIVAL has been happening for 40 years. The late-summer party features arts and craft vendors, Southern food and four stages of live music.

The BLACK PRAIRIE BLUES FESTIVAL, also in West Point on the same weekend, pays homage to hometown hero Howlin’ Wolf with a variety of musical acts.

LITERATURE

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The 1875 Victorian home that was the birthplace of one of America’s most accomplished playwrights is now the TENNESSEE WILLIAMS HOME AND WELCOME CENTER in Columbus.

Before he became a best-selling author, John Grisham studied accounting at Mississippi State University in Starkville; the campus library now houses the JOHN GRISHAM ROOM, where materials and memorabilia from his writings are on display.

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The lovingly preserved EUDORA WELTY HOUSE in Jackson—where the author lived for more than 75 years—features art, photos, furnish- ings and, of course, books just as she had them. Contemporary novelist GREG ILES calls Natchez home, and his website, GregIles.com,  provides a map of nearby locations featured in his popular books.

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Writer WILLIE MORRIS was a favorite son of Yazoo City, and fans still pay their respects at his burial site in the town’s historic GLENWOOD CEMETERY, where another plot known as the “Witch’s Grave” was made famous in the Morris book Good Old Boy.

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William Faulkner lived in the 1840s home ROWAN OAK in Oxford for more than 40 years, and today the home and its tree-shaded grounds are open for visitors to take a peek behind the pages of his books. More recently, Oxford became the home of novelist MICHAEL FARRIS SMITH, whose award-winning books include Desperation Road and The Fighter.

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The tiny town of DeLisle claims two-time National Book Award- winning author JESMYN WARD as one of its own, and the local landscapes are prevalent in her powerful works.

DRIVE-BY GALLERIES AND OUTDOOR MURALS

Many of Mississippi’s most striking works of art are splashed upon the exterior walls of historic buildings and are easy to access, sometimes without even leaving your car. They also make memorable settings for selfies to share with friends back home.

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STONE COUNTY is so chock full of colorful public art, the state officially declared it “Mississippi’s Mural County.” More than 20 mosaic tile and painted murals—found in parks, welcome centers, churches, libraries and more—celebrate the area’s “P’s”—its people, pickles, paper, pine, poles, pecans, pellets and pottery. Stroll through a scene filled with vibrant murals by coastal artists at downtown Gulfport’s FISHBONE ALLEY, home to a multitude of restaurants and nightspots.

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Artist Deborah Mansfield and a team of volunteers have transformed the small town of WEST POINT with hand painted murals featuring themes from wildflowers to blues singers.

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A massive mural at the corner of State and Pearl streets welcomes visitors to DOWNTOWN JACKSON; it’s one of the most prominent murals in a city that contains several works of public art  on building facades.

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Local artists honor blues legends and other larger-than-life figures in a variety of murals gracing the city of CLARKSDALE.

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