Museum expansion

The effort to expand the Union County Heritage Museum got a major boost this week when the Mississippi Legislature agreed to provide $500,000 to help pay for the project.

The money, part of a $200 million statewide bond bill, would pay a little more than one-third of the cost of the project that will more than double the size of the museum.

The money is designated for the William Faulkner Library, which will house the Coffey collection of about 800 volumes, including one of the most impressive collections of Faulkner books (including first editions), poems, short stories and other materials in the Southeast. The collection also includes a set of first editions by local author Borden Deal.

The expansion includes additional display rooms, including one for the Chico Foote collection of approximately 30 mounts from his African and Alaskan expeditions, and a large meeting room for museum events.

The museum has become a quality small museum under the leadership of the board and especially that of its executive director, Jill Smith. It is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, the Mississippi Museum of Art and many other institutions and associations.

The museum is preparing to kick off a private fundraising campaign to supplement the state money. The state money was obtained through the efforts of Smith and Betsy Hamilton, working with Rep. Margaret Ellis Rogers and Sen. Nickey Browning.

It’s a coup for our museum, our community, and the people who have worked so tirelessly to make it what it is today.