Ohr-O'Keefe Museum requesting city funding

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - By Steve Phillips – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The director of the new Ohr-O'Keefe Museum in Biloxi says city funding of that facility is "critical" to its long term success.

Museum leaders have asked the City of Biloxi for a commitment of $10,000 a month, a request that was tabled by the Biloxi City Council last week. But that plea for city financial support has been scaled back from an earlier request.

"The trees. The light. The views. You know, it just brings it all together. I didn't get it until it really was done," said Patty Golden, as she looked around the Ohr-O'Keefe campus.

The museum board chairman says she now understands the full beauty and significance of this museum project in East Biloxi.

Since its grand opening last month, the Ohr-O'Keefe museum has attracted visitors from most every state and seven foreign countries.

"I think the city believes in this museum. And I hope they can find it in their budget to support us," said Golden.

It was mostly private donations that paid for the construction of the project. And money has been raised to finish the campus.

The requested city support would go toward ongoing operating expenses.

"Utilities are $10,000 a month here. Insurance is $369,000 a year. So, we have many, many expenses. So we are certainly hopeful in these difficult times the city will find a way to support us with this $10,000 a month. It is critically important," said Museum Director Denny Mecham.

The museum's request for city funding is now half of what it was just a few months ago.

Back in March of this year, when this issue was heating up, museum officials were then asking the City of Biloxi for $20,000 a month.

"It's difficult when you have to cut budgets, and we've done that to ourselves. We have drastically cut our expectations in what we wanted and what we need to have. But you need a consistent, sustainable source of income," said Golden.

"If it brings people to the museum, it's bringing people to Biloxi. All of that's good," said director Mecham.

There's no word yet on when the City Council might consider the funding request.

The Ohr-O'Keefe Museum has attracted some national publicity lately, including an article in the New York Times and a feature in the current Southern Living magazine.

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