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Phase One of Biloxi’s Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art Opens to Public

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 08 Nov 2010 10:03am | comments
This image of George Ohr in his Biloxi studio covers an entire wall at the new Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art

A mad potter’s collection, a world renowned architect, and a coastal Mississippi town are forever entwined below the century old oaks of The Ohr-OKeeefe Museum of Art. MPB’s Patty Davis reports, Mississippi’s newest tourist attraction is a reflection of the state's past, present and future.

Back in the 1880's, Biloxi potter George Ohr made everyday items like water jugs, flower pots and kitchenware. But after a fire destroyed his studio in 1894, it was different, and not very popular. Many years later Jeanne Nathan, a young arts reporter, stopped into an auction house in New Orleans.

Nathan: And there were these weird little crumpled ceramic things. I said Morton, what are these things? He said,"Oh, that's that mad potter from Biloxi, you want 'em? You can have 'em all for $200".. there were thirty of em.

Nathan didn't’ buy any Ohr pieces that day, but now, years later, she's sitting at the Ohr-Okeefe Museum with Jerry
O’keefe, who started the fundraising for the Ohr Museum project.

O'Keefe: I am happy to be associated with it.

It's Nathan, O'Keefe says, who thought of combining Ohr's unique pottery style with the the bold architectural style of Frank Gehry. Gehry designed five buildings that make up the Museum property.

Gehry: I am delighted with what they've built so far and ... I mean they may like it now, but it's gonna get better.

The Ohr Gallery Pods, and the Ceramic Center are nearing completion, but visitors can shop in the welcome center, and see the works of Ohr and others in the exhibition gallery and the African American gallery. Each building is totally different, combining color, texture and emotion, on the outside, with clean white walls inside ensuring that the art remains the focus..

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This image of George Ohr in his Biloxi studio covers an entire wall at the new Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art


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