July 11, 2018 10:49:08 AM
JACKSON -- Two Mississippi history museums have attracted more visitors in their first seven months than officials predicted for an entire year.
More than 185,000 people have toured the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and the adjoining Museum of Mississippi History since they opened in December as part of the state's bicentennial celebration, state Department of Archives and History director Katie Blount said Tuesday.
The original prediction was for about 180,000 visitors the first year.
The side-by-side museums are in downtown Jackson, near the state Capitol. The Museum of Mississippi History takes a 15,000-year view, from the Stone Age through modern times. The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum concentrates mostly on 1945 to 1976, including exhibitions on the push for voting rights for African-Americans. The two museums are funded by state money and private donations.
About 16,000 people toured the museums when the W.K. Kellogg Foundation provided free admission for four days in January to commemorate the birthdate of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Blount said visitors have come from all 82 counties in Mississippi and several countries, including Australia, Brazil, China, France, Japan, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. Almost 100,000 students, from kindergarten to high school, have visited.
"It is especially gratifying to see so many school children experiencing the museums and learning about our shared past," Blount said in a news release.
The museums' administrator, Cindy Gardner, said group tours have been popular, with people visiting from summer camps, family reunions, church groups and special interest tours.
The museums are open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday. They are closed Monday.