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Join the Must-See Arts Scene in Oxford, MS

With a wide variety of museums, galleries (and even a double-decker bus), you'll be sure to have loads of fun in Oxford.

By Rebecca Treon on December 14, 2021

Oxford’s Double Decker bus
Ronnie Harris

Considering its size, Oxford is a community that punches well above its weight in the “creative” department. So if you’re visiting for the weekend or just moved in to town, prepare to be surprised by all the ways you can have fun in Oxford, MS.

“The city is completely full of arts and culture,” says Robert Saarnio, director of The University of Mississippi Museum and Historic Houses. “When I put on my art-enthusiast hat, I can go to galleries and literary events, and we have a notable restaurant scene.”

Southside Gallery in Oxford, MS

Admire Countless Collections

The museum alone houses one of the world’s best collections of Greek and Roman antiquities, thanks to renowned scholar and archeologist David Robinson, who accepted a professorship at the university following his retirement from Johns Hopkins University and bequeathed part of his personal collection to Ole Miss. The museum also boasts more than 20,000 pieces of artwork, including the work of Southern and African American artists.

“What makes academic museums so thrilling is that you have this dual mandate of serving the general public – children, families, adults of all ages, lifelong learners – but you’re looking inward to the faculty, the research, the needs of the students of the university,” Saarnio says. “It’s really cool. Of all the things we do exceptionally well, I think it’s bringing in the 14,000 children a year who come in contact with the museum. Serving children and young adults is what makes a new generation of art lovers.”

People of all ages also love browsing the art in some of Oxford’s standout galleries, like Southside Gallery, Oxford Treehouse Gallery and Gallery 130.

Square Books in Oxford, MS
Karen Pulfer Focht

Peruse Printed Pages

As for those who prefer the written word, Oxford might just be your paradise. This community not only includes Rowan Oak, the home of renowned author William Faulkner, but it gave us great writers like John Grisham and Willie Morris. Today, visitors can tour Rowan Oak to get a peek into the life of Faulkner. The grounds and property are open to the public year-round.

Also appealing to literary lovers is Square Books, the city’s iconic bookstore, which has satellite locations that specialize in children’s books, rare books and bargain books.

Oxford Fiber Arts Festival in Mississippi
Oxford Fiber Arts Festival

Weave Your Way Through History

Residents can catch a glimpse of their community’s past every day, as Oxford has worked hard to preserve pieces of its history, including its town square, which today includes unique boutiques and galleries. History buffs and art enthusiasts also love the Powerhouse, which was built in 1928 as the home of the Oxford Electric Department and now serves as a venue for theater and art classes, performances and community events.

“We support the arts in our community so the arts can continue to support creatives,” says Wayne Andrews, director of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, which resides in the building. “We also create and support cornerstone events for the community that are socially engaging, like the Oxford Fiber Arts Festival, which is the country’s largest and oldest fiber arts festival.”

Another must-visit event – the Double Decker Arts Festival – takes place in April and turns the square into a gathering spot for food, drinks and music.

Listen to Live Music

Several musical and artistic performances can be found in this community, too. Enjoy live music at venues like the historic Lyric Theatre and Proud Larry’s, which serves up pasta, sandwiches, pizza and other delicious dishes.

The 88,000-square-foot Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts hosts over 150 community events each year, ranging from Broadway musicals to rock acts.

“It really is a place where people are drawn to it as a beautiful environment,” says Julia Aubrey, director of the Ford Center.

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