Biloxi's Ohr-O'Keefe Museum Rebuilding

September 28, 2010

You can't keep a good dream down. After destructive construction setbacks attributed to Hurricane Katrina, portions of the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art campus in Biloxi, MS, have begun to be opened to the public. The campus had been scheduled to open in July 2006 but is now rebuilding after a casino barge landed on one of the unfinished buildings during Hurricane Katrina. The museum campus is a Frank Gehry design, including five new buildings and the placement of the Pleasant Reed Interpretive Center.

The Pleasant Reed Interpretive Center (PRIC) opened September 29 with a Sankofa candlelight ceremony – an African ceremony that celebrates the past while focusing on the future. The original house was built in 1887 by Pleasant Reed (1854-1936), who was born into slavery. The house was lost in August 2005 to Hurricane Katrina, although the archives of the house were saved.

The construction contract for the Gehry buildings was awarded to Roy Anderson Corporation of Gulfport. J.O. Collins of Biloxi is contractor for the Reed Center. Executive architects are Guild Hardy Architects of Biloxi, while Gehry Partners remain the design architect.

The PRIC is a replica of Reed's original sidehall cottage. The exhibit looks at not only the life of the Reed family with their four children, including two sons who served in World War I, but also at African-American life in the post Civil War years in the unique community of Biloxi as well as the Gulf Coast region.

The East Campus of the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art, adjacent to the Pleasant Reed Interpretive Center, is scheduled to open in late 2010.