Civic leader Kathy Pinn takes the helm as the new director of the Waveland Ground Zero Hurricane Museum, which reopened May 27th.
story and photos by Ellis Anderson
The Waveland Ground Zero Museum, 335 Coleman Avenue, may have faced an uncertain future in the past year, but it's back on course this week and heading full steam ahead with new director Kathy Pinn at the helm. The museum reopened to the public on Friday, May 27th and will resume a regular schedule, opening each Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, from 10am - 3pm.
The museum is housed in the city's sole surviving historic school, a building that received a state-of-the-art restoration after Hurricane Katrina. Founded in 2013, the museum began as a grass-roots volunteer effort led by civic leaders Basil Kennedy and LiLi Stahler Murphy (who was serving then as a Waveland Alderman).
For now, until the new museum finds its funding feet, all staffing - including the director's job - are volunteer positions. Kathy Pinn is no stranger to community service. She has a long record of volunteering for numerous civic organizations, including serving as president of both the Coleman Avenue Coalition and the Waveland Community Coalition.
In 2011, Pinn and her husband, Ron, relocated to Illinois to live near family members, yet Kathy admits she'd "wake up every morning thinking about Waveland." When she visited to volunteer at the museum for the 10th anniversary commemorations in August 2015, Hancock Chamber director Tish Williams suggested that she would be perfect for the director's job. With the support and enthusiasm of Waveland Mayor Mike Smith and founder LiLi Murphy, the Pinns realized they'd found their reason to return to the coast.
Kathy Pinn says the museum building captured her heart - and imagination - when she first drove down Coleman Avenue over twenty years ago.
"It was such a cool building even then, shut down and before any renovations," says Pinn. "I thought that it needed to be an active building with children running in and out of it."
As the new director, Pinn's going to have the opportunity to make that dream a reality.
"People who don't live here want to know the story of Katrina," she says. "It was an important historic event to the world. The museum gives an inspiring message, documenting the history of what people here went through and how we made it to the other side with the help of volunteers from all over."
"For residents, it's a place to honor their courage and dignity. It's almost like a war documentary because it shows the adversity and our struggle, how we came to terms with the loss and survived. For us, it offers a kind of healing."
"I see the museum as a positive thing, offering a beautiful message."
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