Thursday, May 12, 2005

First Lady to Promote Mississippi Children’s Museum
Marsha Barbour named honorary chair of Jr. League project

(JACKSON, Miss.) – Mississippi First Lady Marsha Barbour will serve as honorary chair of the new Mississippi Children’s Museum. The museum will be constructed in the Jackson metro area and will integrate arts, science and humanities in fun and interactive exhibits designed specifically for children.
The facility will be modeled similar to major children’s museums in other metropolitan cities, and will feature exhibits and programs throughout the museum that will reflect the culture and history of Mississippi, and the world beyond. Outreach programs will be offered to make sure children from across Mississippi have an opportunity to experience the museum. Barbour said she embraced the opportunity to help move the project forward.

“I knew this was something that I wanted to be a part of from the moment I saw the plans for it,” she said. “This museum project has so much potential to help our children learn and it will be such a wonderful place for them to visit.”

Organizers have developed a master plan for the museum after working the past two years with museum planners and consultants. Organizers have also sought input from business, civic and educational leaders from across the state. The facility will feature four major themes:

-Our People will examine the diverse and creative culture of Mississippians and lifestyles within the state;
-Our Place, which will explore the state’s land and environment and celebrate
Mississippi’s rich history, folklore and events;
-Our Story will explore Mississippi traditions, documentaries, music, as well as stories told by playwrights, novelists and singers.
-Our World will expose children to other cultures and foster understanding of other places and ideas.

The museum is a signature project of the Junior League of Jackson, which has already committed $1 million toward the project’s fundraising goal. Volunteers and fundraisers are currently working to raise the additional funding to begin construction. Cathy Joyner, Museum Chairman, welcomed the First Lady’s involvement in the project.

“She has her finger on the pulse of children and education in this state,” Joyner said. “She has such a passion for this, and as she travels the state she can help raise awareness for the museum and its programs among children and teachers who will use it as a resource for learning.

“Mrs. Barbour will also provide us with valuable input, molding some of the decisions we make based on the needs she sees with our state’s children,” Joyner said.

The first lady has long been an advocate of early childhood education in Mississippi and frequently visits schools around the state. She also helped launch the recent Excel by 5 early education campaign. That program is being piloted in various Mississippi communities and aimed at supporting pre-kindergarten children and families.

“This museum represents a unique opportunity to enhance and supplement the educational programs provided to the children of our state,” Barbour said. “This is not just an interesting place to visit. It provides children with a hands-on experience in learning about the world in which they live.”

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Phone: 601.359.3150 Fax: 601.359.3741

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