Arts & Culture in Meridian, MS

By Raven Petty on May 12, 2014 at 6:00 am EST
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East Mississippi's culture is all inclusive with theater, art, music and fun – all intertwined with the historic districts in the area.

Performing Arts

MSU Riley Center is the perfect place for any theater enthusiast. Since opening in 2006, the center attracts approximately 60,000 visitors a year. At the heart of it all, the second floor 1889 grand opera house seats 950 attendees. The center also has a 200-seat studio theater and 30,000 square feet of meeting space.

Meridian Little Theatre is far from small in the hearts of Meridianites. This theater dates to 1932 and seats 400 people. This venue has grown to be the largest community theater in the state. With the help of nearly 1,000 volunteers, MLT is able to produce more than 50 performances a year.

Temple Theater was built by the Hamasa Shrine organization in the mid 1920s as a meeting hall and venue for traveling shows. It wasn't until the theater was leased by the Saenger organization in 1927 that it gained popularity as a silent movie house complete with a Robert Morgan pipe organ. Today it remains a time capsule to the era's architecture and design while serving as a performing arts and movie venue.

Visual Arts

The Meridian Museum of Art is located in a former Carnegie Library, which was built in 1912-1913. Artist groups meet at the museum monthly, and residents can visit to see the facility's permanent collection and temporary exhibits, take classes and attend special events.

Meridian Council for the Arts helps support the arts scene through grants, workshops and other events. The Threefoot Festival, sponsored by the council, celebrates arts in downtown Meridian where festival-goers can browse or purchase from a diverse collection of art.

Music & Family Fun

Meridian Symphony Orchestra is dedicated to bringing musical art to residents, performing both classical and new compositions, as well as the seasonal Peppermint Pops Concert.

The Jimmie Rodgers Museum pays tribute to the life and career of “The Singing Brakeman." The building, located in Highland Park, features musical instruments and steam engine railroad memorabilia.

Dentzel Carousel is a kid's choice for a fun ride. Dating to 1896, this carousel was restored to bring the original beauty of the animals, chariots and painting for all to enjoy.

Festivals

Meridian hosts a handful of other fun festivals besides its long-running Threefoot Festival celebrating the arts.

The Meridian Main Street organization presents seasonal art crawl events, luring people to galleries and other businesses downtown to view the works of local artists and enjoy live entertainment.

The Juneteenth Heritage Festival in downtown Meridian celebrates the Emancipation Proclamation – the end of slavery in America – with food, vendors and music.

The Young Professionals of Meridian bring in bands from all over the country for the 59Twenty Music Festival as a benefit event for Care Lodge Domestic Violence Shelter. This day-long event is located in the intersections of I-59 and I-20 in downtown.

Find more fun attractions in Meridian, Miss.

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It's staggering the quality entertainment the [MSU Riley Center] has brought to Meridian. We are fortunate to experience this here without having to travel to larger markets. Instead, we benefit from tourists coming to us.

Wink Glover, longtime Meridianite