A Take on Two Coast Museums
“I'm a Gulf Coaster” with a set of those drink coasters to prove it.
Bought my house in Pass Christian last August 29, the 11-year anniversary of Katrina, an ominous coincidence outweighed by my excitement and satisfaction in my new beachy (not beach) fixer-upper. First as a prospective buyer and more recently as a host to first-time visitors, I've driven Highway 90 from Waveland to Ocean Springs many a time.
And the strangest thing we have seen, by consensus, is the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi. Here's the back story I like to tell my guests while they're trapped in the car.
On the Shoofly
The Ohr museum, as it was then called, was just coming to fruition before Katrina hit. My editor had a gentle hand, and advised me to put a little something into the mix along with casinos when I got to the coast. I was one of the wordsmiths who jumped on the “mad potter of Biloxi” with the wild eyes and elegant handlebar mustache as eye candy for my hackneyed travelogue, just as casinos aspire to be more than, well, casinos.
As everyone on the coast knows, internationally famous architect Frank Gehry was hired and came up with those stainless-steel pods. Take that, Ocean Springs and Shearwater Pottery!
The trouble is, as even an art dilettante like me could foresee, giant pods trump giant pots every time.
You can drive by or park in the parking lot and walk around the grounds and admire Mr. Gehry's creations without setting foot inside the main building to see Mr. Ohr's creations.
Never mind, said the editor in Tupelo, the story is swell the way it is. Let Biloxi worry about the turnstile count and the balance sheet.
Worth an hour, an afternoon, a day of a visitor's time. Essential crash course in local history for any newcomer. And a triumph of substance over style and marketing.