Storm Alters Museum Plans

Hurricane Katrina interrupted big plans for two museums in Biloxi.

The Ohr-O'Keefe museum was under construction and looking toward a grand opening. The Seafood Industry Museum was planning an upcoming anniversary celebration.

Thanks to the storm, museum directors are now busy with plans to recover and rebuild.

Architect Frank Gehry envisioned an Ohr-O'Keefe museum that would "dance with the trees." That was before Katrina so rudely cut in.

"You know, you just stand there, and I know people do that with their homes, wanting it to rebuild. And it will," said Ohr-O'Keefe museum director Margie Gowdy.

She says the project may be downsized somewhat. Much depends on the similar challenge facing many homeowners.

"We, like everyone else are waiting on insurance. Some of it has been resolved, much of it may not be resolved for several months yet," she said.

Like the new growth on the oaks, Gowdy sees the promise of renewed life at the museum site. Frank Gehry's firm remains commited.

"They just want this to happen. They love this neighborhood. They love the coast and Biloxi. So, they're just waiting like we are to get started again," she said

There's another storm and museum story just down the road at Point Cadet.

"This month we would be celebrating our twenty year anniversary. We opened in March of 1986," said the longtime director of the Seafood Industry Museum at Point Cadet.

"This is our history and heritage. That's what Biloxi was known for, the seafood capital of the world," said Robin Krohn.

The seafood industry won't likely be rebuilt here at Point Cadet. That property seems destined for a casino related development.

Two locations being considered for the new seafood industry museum are the city-owned Tullis Manor property or the former site of the Boys and Girls Club. Both those locations would put the museum closer to Ohr-O'Keefe, creating something of a cultural campus there.

"Instead of casino row, it could be museum row. And we could all be there. The Ohr-O'Keefe, the seafood museum and our schooner pier across the street," said David.

Such a "cultural campus" along the water front was envisioned by city leaders before the storm.