Additional funding needed for state museums

In this Oct. 11 photograph, a hand-painted Civil War era double rocker, a Confederate regiment battle flag and a one-time sealed Sovereignty Commission file cabinet will eventually be displayed in either a Mississippi history museum or a civil rights museum in Jackson. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

In this Oct. 11 photograph, a hand-painted Civil War era double rocker, a Confederate regiment battle flag and a one-time sealed Sovereignty Commission file cabinet will eventually be displayed in either a Mississippi history museum or a civil rights museum in Jackson. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

By Bobby Harrison

Daily Journal Jackson Bureau

JACKSON – Officials with the Department of Archives and History will be seeking additional state funds during the 2014 legislative session to complete the two museums project in Jackson.

Ground will be broken today on the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson, but additional funds will be needed to complete the project.

H.T. Holmes, director of the Department of Archives and History, said it is estimated an additional $35 million will be needed for the two museums, but that could change.

Bids on the construction of the facilities came in lower than expected.

The Legislature already has issued $38 million in bonds for the construction of “the shell” for the two museums. The bonds were issued in 2011 at the urging of then-Gov. Haley Barbour.

Efforts have been under way for years to build the museums. Barbour’s endorsement to build them and open them in 2017 in conjunction with the state’s bicentennial celebration jump-started the effort.

At the time, then-Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant opposed issuing bonds for the projects. But Bryant now seems to be on board and will participate in today’s ground-breaking.

“Not only will these museums be a tremendous economic development tool for the state and bring visitors to our capital city, but they will also be an extraordinary educational resource for generations to come,” Bryant said in an Archives and History news release.

As part of the 2011 legislation funding the museums, Archives and History is required to obtain a dollar-for-dollar match for exhibits. Efforts also are under way to raise $10 million in private funds for the Civil Rights Museum.

In total, the project is expected to cost more than $90 million.

bobby.harrison@journalinc.com