When the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina subsided, the impact of the event began to set in. Nan Prince, Director of Collections, remembers stepping into the storage room at the Old Capitol, a storage site for thousands of artifacts spanning centuries of state history. The storm had peeled away the rooftop, leaving collections exposed to the storm.
“It was horrifying,” recalled Prince. “By the time we got in there, there was still water all over the floor, and everything was just drenched. It was heartbreaking.”
The story of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum is a testament to the resilience of museum staff and their commitment to collections entrusted to them. Nearly 15 years after the devastation of Katrina, the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum opened its doors. Just over 10% of the museum’s collection is on display to the public, the remaining pieces are secured in Delta storage cabinets. Having the collection safely stored signaled the end of a long journey for the museum staff, and a new opportunity for them to tell their important story.
“Relief…and excitement.” This is how Kathleen Barnett, Collections Manager at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, described her feelings upon entering the storage area for the first time. Her words help remind us why we love our job!
The museum staff has also helped remind us the value of continuously testing and improving our products. When a recent building leak threatened collections once again, Prince shared that Delta’s hermetically-sealed cabinets passed the test with flying colors, barring even a single droplet of moisture from reaching the interior housing.
“We feel very good about the water tightness of these cabinets,” she said. Coming from a museum staff who saw the worst possible scenario play out before their eyes, the fact that we’ve earned their trust and given them a sense of relief is the highest honor we can hold.