Big boost for Meridian campus of Mississippi Children’s Museum

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Mississippi Children's Museum

Officials unveiled a design rendering of the future children’s museum on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

The Mississippi Children’s Museum’s anticipated satellite location in Meridian got a boost Tuesday when officials announced a new multi-million dollar donation to the project.

The Riley Foundation, based in Meridian and Lauderdale County, announced at a press conference Tuesday it would provide a $4 million grant for the project to “improve the quality of life for our children, and grandchildren, for many generations to come,” president and treasurer Marty Davidson said in the release.

The new museum is a signature project of the Meridian-based Phil Hardin Foundation, which announced in May 2016 that it would provide a $3 million grant.

“The Phil Hardin Foundation recognized early-on that
this project will have a tremendously positive impact for children across the
socioeconomic spectrum in our community and region,” foundation president Lloyd Gray said in a release. “We need to do all we can to stimulate and enhance learning for all children, but especially for those who  otherwise wouldn’t have access to the type of enrichment experiences the Children’s Museum will provide.”

The city of Meridian also provided a $1 million donation for the museum, said Mississippi Children’s Museum marketing director Mary Alex Thigpen.

“The City of Meridian is thrilled to work with the Mississippi
Children’s Museum on a project that will not only expand opportunities for
Meridian’s youth, but also provide an opportunity for cultural and economic
growth in our city,” Mayor Percy Bland said in a release.

The Weir Boerner Allin architectural firm will design the museum, which will be located at 403 22nd Ave. Groundbreaking is anticipated for Sept. 2020, Thigpen said.

Like the Jackson museum, the Meridian campus will offer exhibits surrounding topics like literacy, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) health and nutrition and cultural arts. It will also include exhibits that focus on Meridian and East Mississippi history so students from the area can learn about where they live, Thigpen said.