Toyota Motor North America has made a $750,000 contribution for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History’s 2 Mississippi Museums project. Toyota’s donation will advance programming at the Museum of Mississippi History and create the Toyota Gallery at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.
The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum will focus on the period 1945 to 1976 and tell the story of the struggle for equal rights and fair treatment under the law. The Toyota Gallery will contain seven thematic galleries of exhibits encircling a central gallery.
“This tremendous gift will support the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and Museum of Mississippi History in Jackson,” said Judge Reuben V. Anderson, chair of the Foundation for the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. “It ensures students across the state will have access to the museums, that teachers are supported by them, and that communities are inspired by them.”
“We are excited to partner with the museums to educate future generations about a critical time in Mississippi’s history,” said Adrienne Trimble, general manager, diversity and inclusion at Toyota Motor North America. “We thought that this donation would be an excellent way to mark our ten-year anniversary in the state, contributing to something we care deeply about and that can make a lasting impact with our youth and the community.”
Toyota and the department will also partner to bring traveling exhibits to Toyota’s manufacturing facility over the next three years. Toyota’s plant in Blue Springs builds the Corolla and employs nearly 2,000 people.
“We look forward to engaging the communities of northeast Mississippi with these traveling exhibits,” said MDAH director Katie Blount. “The stories we tell are the stories of all Mississippians.”
The Legislature has invested $90 million to date for construction and exhibits for the museums. The Legislature required a dollar-for-dollar match for the exhibits, and the Foundation for Mississippi History has raised more than $17 million in gifts and pledges.
Museum construction began in December 2013. The first phase, including the building exterior and public parking garage, was completed in the fall of 2015. Phase two, interior construction, will conclude in April, at which time exhibit installation will begin. The museums will open December 9 as the centerpiece of the state’s bicentennial celebration.
The Museum of Mississippi History will explore the entire sweep of the state’s history, from earliest times to the present. The museum collection dates back to the early twentieth century and the founding of MDAH. Initially housed in the state capitol, the State History Museum operated in the Old Capitol from 1961 until 2005 when damage from Hurricane Katrina forced the closing of the building. MDAH has the world’s finest collection of Mississippi artifacts, including a rare 1818 twenty-star U.S. flag, an original Bowie knife, quilts made by enslaved people, and prehistoric Native American artifacts.