The Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art's huge "Katrina +10" is approaching the home stretch of its six-month run, and some of its most popular programs are just around the corner.
"This is the biggest thing we've done in the 17-year history of the museum, and the attendance continues to grow exponentially as we approach the Aug. 29 anniversary of Katrina," said Kevin O'Brien, director of the east Biloxi museum. "We're expecting to pass 25,000 visitors shortly, and the big news is that many of these folks are visiting the museum from out of town and are first-time visitors."
O'Brien also said that the exhibit, which is open daily, is a story of south Mississippi's inspirational story. "Obviously, we have to show the devastation, which we do through a host of emotional multi-media events, but we're more than that. People who live here have seen the storm. You've seen the storm; now see the recovery."
This week, O'Brien noted, K10 has something for everyone, from looking at how south Mississippi business leaders created a blueprint for sustained progress after Katrina, to hearing inspirational stories from survivors, and learning how one man became a vital voice for the poor and underprivileged in the wake of Katrina.
Wednesday evening at 7 p.m., the museum will host "The Blueprint for Progress," where leaders of the Gulf Coast Business Council will discuss the issues of sustainable growth in the post-Katrina world: on-shore gaming, affordable insurance and stronger building codes. In a panel discussion, Business Council members will discuss landmark legislation and other initiatives that were put in place to set the table for economic and community development. Panel members include Jack Norris, director of the Gulf Coast Business Council, and board members Chevis Swetman of the Peoples Bank and Kimberly LaRosa of the Renaissance Corp.
On Friday at noon, the museum's Hancock Bank Katrina CafÃ© will host Reilly Morse, president and CEO of The Mississippi Center for Justice. Morse has ensured that Katrina survivors throughout MS have received fair treatment and essential legal services since the beginning of the recovery. Morse will speak on the challenges and successes post-Katrina. Reservations are $10, which includes lunch and admission into the multi-media exhibits. Call 228-374-5547.
Then on Sunday, the museum hosts two events: a 1:30 p.m. book reading by Cynthia Joyce, editor of the recently published anthology of Hurricane Katrina-related online writing, and at 3 p.m., "Pascagoula Day," where Mayors Jim Blevins and Matthew Avara will recount how Pascagoula emerged from being 92 percent flooded in Hurricane Katrina to being recognized as having one of the nation's fastest-growing economies. That presentation is free and open to the public, and any Pascagoula resident in attendance will receive a discount on admission to the multi-media presentations in the museum.
"These are programs that will take us into the weekend," O'Brien said. "We have plenty more in the offing between now and mid-September, when we transition from the Katrina exhibit."
"Katrina +10"³ opened March 20 and features the prize-winning work of the Sun Herald, WLOX, Mississippi Department of Transportation, Mississippi Power and Hands On Mississippi. It is open daily through Sept. 12.
On June 2, the exhibit welcomed its 10,000th visitors, two special-education school bus drivers from Georgia, and on July 26, the exhibit saw its 20,000th visitors, a Washington, D.C. couple who drove especially to the exhibit while visiting their daughter in New Orleans.
Said O'Brien: "It's like we tell people: Everybody in south Mississippi has a Katrina story. This is the Katrina story of all of south Mississippi."
Katrina +10 was made possible by the multi-media exhibitors, and support from Hancock Bank, Merit Health Biloxi, Walmart, CSpire, and the Biloxi Chamber of Commerce. Additionally support was provided by the City of Biloxi, and two firms working on the Biloxi's infrastructure project, Oscar Renda Contracting and S.J. Lewis Construction of Texas.
Visit the Katrina +10 website
See photos at the Katrina +10 Facebook page
Released by Vincent Creel, Public Affairs Manager, City of Biloxi