Learn and Play at Biloxi’s Ohr-O’Keefe
By: Kara Bachman
In a recent issue of Parents & Kids, we examined the many benefits of bringing children to art museums. This month, we thought we’d further explore one local option that would make for a great activity once school’s out for summer: The Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art, in Biloxi.
According to Kevin O’Brien, Executive Director of the Ohr-O’Keefe, the exhibits are diverse. He said visitors might find an exhibit on vintage motorcycles in one museum gallery, and in another, an exhibit on a ceramics artist. This variety is good for keeping children interested.
“In addition to fine arts exhibits,” O’Brien explained, “we have exhibits about baseball, cars in art, antique toys, embroidery painting, the African-American community of the Gulf Coast, and a Katrina exhibit.”
O’Brien said the mainstay of the museum, however, is of course the George Ohr Collection. While he said the exhibit of pottery by the eccentric Ohr is mainly of interest to adults, “young people appreciate the fun stories about George Ohr that are presented through video presentations and gallery docents.”
O’Brien said much of the museum’s programming is based on ceramic studio programs for children, including summer programs.
“We have a modern state-of-the-art ceramics facility on the museum campus that has all kinds of equipment for working with Clay,” O’Brien said. “Kids that are involved with the program actually have lots of fun, because they are creating their own concepts and inventions in clay with instruction by professional clay artists.”
Perhaps the most notable feature of the museum for visitors is its architecture. It was designed by famed modern architect, Frank Gehry.
“Many of the younger visitors are also interested by the highly unusual architecture of the museum campus designed by Frank Gehry,” O’Brien said. “Several kids have commented that the campus looks like a spaceship.”
He said sometimes the very youngest kids love to run around the museum campus, “and go up to the highest points of the campus buildings to get great vista views of the campus and of the Gulf of Mexico.”
He said there’s also a Welcome Center where visitors can find out more about the exhibits, a cafe, and a museum store.
O’Brien said a child as young as age five can enjoy the museum by creating something in the Center for Ceramics. By age seven or eight, a child is probably old enough to enjoy the museum exhibits as well.
Art Museums in South Mississippi Include:
The Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art
386 Beach Blvd. Biloxi, MS
The Lauren Rogers Museum
565 N. 5th Ave. Laurel, MS
The USM Museum of Art
George Hurst Building
104 Southern Dr. Hattiesburg, MS
The Walter Anderson Museum of Art
510 Washington Ave. Ocean Springs, MS
The Alice Moseley Folk Art and Antique Museum
1928 Depot Way Bay St. Louis, MS
Kara Bachman is an author, editor, and mom to two teenage kids. Just like many of the children who visit, she loves the beautiful views of the oak trees and Mississippi Sound that can be enjoyed from the grounds of the Ohr-O’Keefe.