The Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center board announced today that they have obtained the property for the long-planned Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Museum.
MAEC purchased the old Montana's restaurant property on Front Street in downtown Meridian and has received a donation of the adjoining Meridian Hotel property. MAEC purchased the Montana's property for $300,000.
The property, which stretches along the south side of Front Street from the 22nd Avenue bridge to Union Station, will be home to the museum, but it hasn't been decided whether the museum will be housed in the existing buildings.
Tommy Dulaney and Clay Holladay, MAEC board members, said the next step in the process will be advertising for and hiring an architect. Dulaney said he thinks it will take around three or four years to get the museum ready.
They said the architect will decide whether to renovate the current buildings on the property or demolish them and construct a new building.
Dulaney said the Meridian Hotel is in very poor condition. The Montana's building is in better condition and was used by a local church as a meeting place, reception hall, and business incubator until MAEC purchased the property.
The museum construction will be partially funded by $4 million from the state, granted to the project back in the early 2000s. Dulaney said the rest of the money, which is an undetermined amount, will have to come through fundraising.
Dulaney said he doesn't know yet exactly what the museum will be like, but said it will house a hall of fame, adding, "We want it to be something really nice - not just pictures on the wall, but a lot of interactive stuff."
Because it is a statewide project using state funds, Holladay said the MAEC board will seek input from communities across the state on what the museum should be like.
Dulaney and Holladay also said that, though the museum will be located downtown, there are still plans for the eventual construction of an amphitheater at Bonita Lakes, which was once planned as the site of the entire arts and entertainment center.
For more on this story, read tomorrow's edition of the Meridian Star.