Since Mississippi’s tiniest museum opened in August 2020, The Pocket Museum has gained the attention of local and national residents. It has been featured in publications like The Washington Post, Lonely Planet, Time Out Magazine and Tastefully Rude. There are daily posts on social media buzzing about the attraction. Longtime residents and newcomers alike have all been asking the same question: “What is the Pocket Museum?”
The Hattiesburg Convention Commission (HCC) helps to develop and maintain tourist hotspots to maintain economic growth. Aside from the Hattiesburg Pocket Museum, the HCC also helps to run the African American Military History Museum, Hattiesburg Zoo, Historic Saenger Theater and many more.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the HCC, like many other businesses, has had difficulties maintaining operations. Due to its particular tie to tourism, the HCC has faced unique problems in the face of social distancing and stay-at-home orders. Not only has COVID-19 hurt business owners and the community, but, as conditions have been slowly improving, many people have been begging for new activities to do outside of the house.
The Pocket Museum turned out to be the perfect answer to this. The attraction invites its visitors to search for its unmarked location, which brings families, friends and strangers together in a city-wide scavenger hunt. Because of its location outside, The Pocket Museum is also a healthy and safe way to have fun and explore Hattiesburg.
Rick Taylor has been the Executive Director of the HCC since 1993. He believes that the Museum’s “uniqueness was intriguing to visitors and residents” because the journey so many usually make in order to find it. The museum has, as he put it, already “improved the quality of life to all residents”, thanks in part to its 24/7 accessibility.
“[It] created interest and relieved some of the stress and anxiety brought on by the pandemic,” said Taylor.
Every month, a new submitted collection can be seen from an illuminated alley window accompanied by music and ever changing decorations. This month’s exhibit features the art of origami.
“The works presented are from as far away as Thailand and as close as Hattiesburg,” explained Taylor.
The origami itself is arranged with a very dynamic aesthetic. This helps match the variety of people and backgrounds that contributed to the project. If you find this display particularly fun, some of the many, many people you can thank for this month’s exhibit include the Hattiesburg Junior Auxiliary Crown Club, Hattiesburg resident Pa’Shance Lee, Gautier resident Austin Wilson, Anna Kudelin from California, Miki from Atlanta, Ying from Massachusetts, Michele Lassus from France and Polly from Thailand.
This latest exhibit alone probably best shows the astonishing ways in which The Pocket Museum showcases and reaches a wide audience. There are few other things in the world quite like it.
“The Pocket Museum has served as a catalyst for increased visitation to the historic downtown of Hattiesburg [for a reason],” said Taylor.
Junior Psychology and recent transfer student Cheyenne Ceely visited the Pocket Museum for the first time with a few friends.
“I liked it,” she said. “It is very cool, and I think that it helps to bring a valuable form of culture to the city.”
The location has something that just about everyone could like about it. So many people tend to talk about it for a reason. However, Taylor explains The Pocket Museum craze best: “The Museum exhibits focus on evoking an emotion from the visitor. You may love it. You may reminisce about it. You may hate it. But you will feel something!”