Museum to celebrate 25th with gala

TUPELO – The Oren Dunn City Museum celebrates its 25th anniversary tonight with a gala that officials hope will raise both money and awareness.
“Historically, the museum was just a collection of a bunch of old objects,” said Mike Currie, chairman of the museum’s advisory board. “We’re trying to switch the focus so we build on the past to reinforce the future of what Tupelo is. We want to celebrate that idea … and to recognize some of those people who have been vital to the museum so far.”
Named “History Under the Stars,” the gala kicks off at 7 p.m. with outdoor dancing and big-band music provided by Wick Sparks. It also will feature heavy hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar.
Tickets cost $20 and include one year’s free membership to the Friends of the Museum, which has perks like monthly speakers and events.
The curator “would like to see at least 150 people at the gala, but I think we can get 300,” said Rae Mathis, operations manager. “I’m a big dreamer.”
Located on the east side of Ballard Park, the museum houses a diverse collection of memorabilia from Tupelo’s past, including its role in the 1864 Battle of Harrisburg and its destruction after the 1936 tornado.
It also has several historic buildings and vehicles, like an 1870s dog-trot cabin, the 1948 Lee County Book Mobile, the Memphis trolley car that once housed Dudie’s Diner, and the old Forest Lake barn and silos. The barn and silos were designated as local historic landmarks this week.
“It’s really an accomplishment for a community the size of Tupelo to support a municipal museum,” he said. “It’s a rarity.”
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or Also read her blog, The Government Grind, at

Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal