The Mississippi Department of Archives and History celebrated a $1 million contribution from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi with the first inside peek at the museums. Known for its support of Mississippi’s communities, arts, and culture, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi was one of the initial contributors to the 2 Mississippi Museums Project in 2013. The gift is funding the orientation theater, which will be housed in the Museum of Mississippi History, where visitors will begin their museum journey.
The announcement was made June 11 from the William F. Winter Archives and History Building overlooking the construction site of the 2 Mississippi Museums in downtown Jackson.
“Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi is proud to support the 2 Mississippi Museums, which celebrate the culture and history of our state,” said Sheila Grogan, Vice President, Community and Public Relations. “We celebrate the progress Mississippi has made over the years and look forward to sharing our history, our culture and the continuing efforts to build a bright and healthy future for the next generations of Mississippians.”
For more than 70 years, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi has led the way in serving the state’s individuals, businesses and communities by providing innovative health benefits, wellness programs, and resources as well as extensive support to the Mississippi community through funding of the arts, culture, health and fitness opportunities, community organizations and through the work of its Team Blue employee volunteers.
“This building project is the most significant in my lifetime in Mississippi,” said William F. Winter, governor of Mississippi 1980-84 and member of the board of directors of the Foundation for Mississippi History. “It speaks loudly to the country and the world about the progress we have made. It also speaks to the opportunity that we have to see to it that succeeding generations of Mississippians, and especially young people, will understand and appreciate their heritage and be inspired to be the best citizens they possibly can.”
The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Orientation Theater will welcome visitors to the Museum of Mississippi History and set the stage for their journey through the eight chronological galleries. Designed as a theater in the round, it is the first of four theaters that will build on the theme of history as a shared story with many voices.
In 2011, Governor Haley Barbour worked with the Mississippi Legislature to begin funding the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. The Legislature has committed $74 million in bond funds for construction and exhibits for the 2 Mississippi Museums. The Legislature required a dollar-for-dollar match for the exhibits. The Foundation for Mississippi History and the Foundation for the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum committed to raising $16 million—$12 million for exhibits and $4 million for endowments for the museums. The foundations are on track to meet that goal. MDAH will seek additional public funds in 2016 to complete the exhibits and furnish the building.
Since construction began in December 2013, all interior floors have been completed, work on the roof is nearly finished, and installation of the limestone façade has begun. Phase one includes the construction of a public parking garage and will be completed in summer 2015. Phase two, interior construction, will last 18 months. The museums are scheduled to open in December 2017 as the centerpiece of the state’s bicentennial celebration.