Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art begins major campaign

Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art begins major campaign

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - One of the most ambitious capital campaigns in years for the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art is a drive to try to finish a major project plagued by costs, design challenges, and delays.Only one of the four pods created by architect Frank Gehry is open.

The new fundraising event is called the Great Families of the Gulf Coast Campaign.

The ultimate goal: finish one of the famous pods to finally give George Ohr a permanent home to display his work.

"We want to move forward," said Harry Joachim, the museum's director of development. "We want to make this the great showcase it can be to bring the treasures of the art world here and build a world class education program while we do it."

Officials at the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art are frustrated that they haven't been able to finish what they started. One big reason is the cost. It will be $500,000 to finish only one pod.

Katrina recovery, an economic downturn, and a battle over insurance that kept the Welcome Center from reopening after a fire seven months ago have added to the problems.

"It's frustrating," said Cree Cantrell, president of the museum's board of trustees. "It's hard to operate at full capacity without all of our galleries, and so we're asking those people who've been successful here on the Gulf Coast to help us to complete that by giving to our campaign."

The idea of the campaign is to get 500 families to donate $1,000 each.

"Some of these great families date back to the original founding of the area and some of these great families have just arrived but they've already made a positive mark in the community," Joachim said. "It's a way for all the families here on the Gulf Coast to honor themselves, build a legacy for their families, and build a legacy for the community as well by supporting the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum."

The next pod to be finished will be the permanent home for the Collection of George Ohr, which is now displayed in some of the other gallery space on the campus.

"This great American master is finally going to have a home of his own," Joachim added.

The campaign starts immediately, and ends Dec. 31. For more information, call the museum at 228-374-5547 or go to the website, www.georgeohr.org.

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