Coast's Seafood Past Will Have Future

Published: Oct. 2, 2005 at 10:52 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 3, 2005 at 3:45 AM CDT
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A Biloxi museum that celebrated the coast's cultural past will have a future.

The Maritime and Seafood Museum's board of directors have decided to rebuild what Hurricane Katrina destroyed.

Director Robin Krohn-David recalled going to check on the building after the storm.

"I had already heard lots of reports that the Point was gone but I had to come see for myself and not much left."

Not much is left of the museum excepts for mounds of bricks and hanging wires.Inside the shell of a building are trees from Deer Island that Krohn-David believes acted as torpedoes. She has been at the site several times since the storm. She says each occasion is just as painful as the first.

"I've been here 17 years so this is like just a major part of me, " she said. "The museum it tells the story of history and heritage of the gulf coast so it's very important that we rebuild. We must continue to show the tourists and our school children and everyone on the coast what the coast was about in the early 1900s."

More than a month after Katrina, artifacts connecting the present day coast to its seafood heritage are still surfacing.

"We're trying to find some heavy equipment to come in here and raise some of the concrete ceilings and walls because we feel like there are still some artifacts under the debris," she said "We've been out in the neighborhood and we've found a lot of our items just spread through the Point."

Although she knows rebuilding homes, schools and infrastructure will be a priority, Krohn-David doesn't believe the museum that anchors the coast to its past will be forgotten.

"I'm not too worried. The people here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast are fantastic and think they'll completely support us like they have in the past."

Museum officials say the schooners are still operational and are available for charters. They are hopeful to have the Maritime and Seafood Museum re-opened in about two years.

Meanwhile, exhibits will be on display soon at another South Mississippi museum, at least for now. The Walter Anderson Museum of Art in Ocean Springs is scheduled to open October 18th with all its artwork in tact. Curator Pat Pinson says because of a staffing shortage, the museum will open five days a week from Tuesday through Saturday. That is a change from the seven days a week before Katrina.

However, Pinson says she's worried about just how long the museum can afford to stay open. She says the museum depends on the thousands of tourists and school groups that visit each year to pay for operating expenses. Museum officials are hoping for donations to offset the lost income.

There is good news for supporters of the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum in Biloxi. According to director Margie Gowdy, all of George Ohr's pottery is safe and in storage at the Mobile Museum of Art. Gowdy says the board of directors voted to move forward with the construction of new museum on Highway 90 but did not set a time frame. She says the board decided to focus on the new facility rather than rebuilding the previous one which was severely damaged in the hurricane.

by Danielle Thomas