Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience (The MAX)


Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience (The MAX)

The Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Center (The MAX) opened on April 28, 2018, in Meridian, Mississippi. The MAX was created to showcase Mississippi’s arts and entertainment legacy, honor their creative legends and inspire tomorrow’s artists. Visitors are invited to explore the Land, the Home, the Community, the Church, the People, and the Places that make Mississippi so special. Throughout the galleries, visitors interact with cutting-edge technology and hear personal accounts from Mississippi artists about the importance of their home. The spaces examine the dynamic and reciprocal relationship between artists and place; for just as a place can shape an artist’s work, the presence of artists can influence a place—and inspire future artists down the road.


Visitors enter the museum through the Hall of Fame rotunda, a 16,000 square foot interactive installation featuring artists from Mississippi,  “the land of legends.” Such honorees include William Faulkner and John Grisham, B.B. King and Faith Hill, Morgan Freeman and Sela Ward, Jim Henson and Mary Ann Mobley. They are celebrated for their impact in their professional field and on Mississippi culture. Their stories, shared alongside the programming and activities throughout the center, provide a jumping off point for visitors to explore The MAX.


As visitors move throughout the interpretive galleries, they explore different ordinary scenes from life in rural Mississippi. Each scene tells the story of the artists whose creativity was nurtured in that environment, and in that seemingly modest moment. From sitting on the front porch to singing in the church choir, cooking with family to toiling in the fields; the roots of creativity took hold.


Inside the Home Gallery, visitors are invited to sit down in the ‘Living Room’ and craft quilting squares in the style of quilting artists from Mississippi, such as Hystercine Rankin. Surrounding the walls are pictures of famous artists and the inspiration and creativity their homes nurtured.


To create an experience that inspires future generations of authors and writers and dives deep into the question, “Where does inspiration come from?,” we designed an immersive Writers’ Studio to introduce the writings of three of Mississippi’s (and the world’s) most notable authors: John Grisham, Richard Wright, and Eudora Welty.

In this theatrical projection mapping experience, we immerse visitors in the authors’ writing by making reading more active. Visitors hear authors discuss their work and process in their own words, and then hear an excerpt of their writing read aloud as projections bring the typewriter to life and show the story spilling across the writer’s canvas of expression: the desk.


The kitchen nourished creativity, inspiration and connection for chefs native to MIssissippi. In the Kitchen gallery, visitors get to know local chefs through their stories and their signature recipes. At the interactive table, visitors move plates from the runner or pass them along to each other, in a symbolic family meal. 


Pair different large and small plates containing ingredients (like pork and okra), to unlock recipes and stories about the Mississippi chefs who created recipes from these ingredients. Each chef’s unique style, experience and vision comes to life through the combination of RFID technology and projection mapping to “magically” reveal content as visitors engage with the table and each other.


Visitors are asked to explore the school’s locker room. Open the locker doors to unlock stories. Whose story can you relate to? What challenges resonate and inspire you? What’s in your future? The tactile wall at right provides visitors a place to work together to illustrate their own answers to the questions. Rotating exhibits highlight arts programs in local high schools, creating an important bond between the Max and future artists of Mississippi.

The MAX is the only museum to celebrate the artistic PROCESS as opposed to its finished product. This way, creativity becomes accessible to everyone. Your product doesn’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to be famous. Everyone can make something and it is in the activity of making that people can find purpose.
Sara van Haastert | Senior Project Manager, Gallagher & Associates

The Juke Joint is integral to shaping the music of Mississippi.  Here, visitors visit “Maxie’s” the museum’s own Juke Joint. Here they can enjoy music made famous by Mississippians from rock and roll to blues and jazz . See who inspired what genre of music and their impact on the world. At the interactive kiosks by the stage, they can create a “dream band” joining legendary Mississippi artists together that never played together before.


The entrance of the TV & Radio-themed gallery, is designed to look like a mid-century electronic store, located just off the town square. A visitor may walk inside and explore the celebration of artists and performers who came from Mississippi and changed the landscape of American media arts.


Inside the mid-century electronic store, a 3D printed display of radios and televisions and computers is activated with playful projection mapping. The surface, a triptych with radio, TV and computer elements in high-relief, becomes a platform for the projected stories of Mississippi artists who shaped the course of radio, television, and the Internet, as Mississippi shaped them. A unique soundscape with each artist’s voice or music highlighted accompanies the projection.

The Boat film features the inspiring water landscapes that shaped and influenced the oeuvres of three significant Mississippi painters: Walter Anderson, Marie Hull, and William Collingsworth. This immersive theatrical media environment presents a boat ride through the rivers, swamps and ocean. Using machine learning, the landscapes once visited by Anderson, Hull, and Collingsworth are transformed through painterly filters inspired by their artworks.  


At every step of the way, visitors are asked to get inside the story. Experience the landscape from Mississippi’s rivers and deltas,  paint and mold clay like the greats, create a quilting square, direct a puppet show like Jim Henson.

Tears kept welling up, coming to the surface as each tableau lay witness to yet another dimension of my past, the human experience explored, displayed, celebrated in all the beautiful forms that artists use to express their understanding, or their struggle to understand, the human experience.
A Museum Visitor
Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience (The MAX)
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