Ohr-O'Keefe Museum taking shape in East Biloxi

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The Ohr-O'Keefe Museum project in East Biloxi will get a significant financial boost Friday night. More than 400 guests will attend the museum's annual fund raiser at Beau Rivage.

Construction work continues at the museum site, where a trio of new buildings is set to open late next year.

Museum supporters are confident that finished buildings will eventually "dance among the trees." You'll recall that was the vision of world renowned architect, Frank Gehry, who designed the new museum.

And despite the devastating damage from Katrina, the museum's director says, "we're going to make this museum happen."

Museum Executive Director Denny Mecham has held that position for one year.  Her second night in Biloxi, she attended the annual fund raiser at Beau Rivage.

Money raised Friday night will support the continued construction on a trio of buildings.

"The 'east campus' refers to the Mississippi Sound welcome center, which is right behind me, the IP casino resort and spa exhibitions gallery, which is the middle building. And the third building is the African-American gallery, which is the closest to 90 and the beach. And we had to raise that building 14 feet," Mecham explained.

Those three buildings are set to open in November of next year.

The Pleasant Reed interpretive center is the only museum building now open at the new campus.

Without question, the buildings which still attract the most attention are the Frank Gehry designed "pods."

"The pods will be our last building to open. The four pods will be connected with a glass atrium. So, it will act as one unit and be air conditioned. And that's where the George Ohr collection will be and all the information on George's life," said the museum director, "The pods will be covered with a burnished, stainless steel, seamless finish. It will reflect the sunsets and the sunrises and the water."

As important as the buildings are the live oak trees which captured Gehry's imagination.

"He wanted his buildings to dance with the trees. We started with 36 live oak on this campus. We now have 18. But I can tell you, they are pampered trees," she said.

Director Mecham is confident the remaining seven million dollars will be raised to complete the campus.

"In spite of recession, and all the things everyone is dealing with, we are an army of believers," she said.

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