Have you found Mississippi’s tiniest museum? You may have walked right past it! The Hattiesburg Pocket Museum is the Hub City’s quirky new hideaway. Madison Crimm, the University of Southern Mississippi’s admissions counselor and recent graduate, was certainly surprised to find it.
“I was shook,” Crimm said. “I thought it would at least be some closet or something.”
The tiny museum, which features a new off-the-wall exhibit each month, is merely a window display in a downtown Hattiesburg alley. A collection of 112 colorful, patterned Swiss Army Knives comprised the Museum’s debut exhibit earlier this month, with information about the knives hung adjacent to the display.
Sponsored by the Hattiesburg Convention Commission, which manages, among other things, the Hattiesburg Convention Center, the Hattiesburg Zoo and the Saenger Theatre, the Pocket Museum’s exact location is a secret. Finding the museum, its anonymous “Curator” said, is part of the fun. He believes the experience of finding it will be something that people are more likely to cherish and remember. He also encourages visitors to explore downtown Hattiesburg, where they can visit many different restaurants and shops.
As curious residents flock downtown to see the whimsical new museum, it seems the Curator’s plan may just work.
“It reminded me of how unique Hattiesburg is,” Crimm said. “What other city has a pocket museum?”
The Curator also says the Pocket Museum is only the beginning of a long-term plan to “activate” that alley.
The Convention Commission, with the City of Hattiesburg, will slowly “morph” the alley into a lively event space over the next two years. Part of the plan includes renovating a sky bridge over the alley.
Stocked with live music, lights, art, drinks and seating, the Curator intends to inject many “signs of life” into the alley so residents aren’t afraid to explore their city and all its back alleys.
“It’s a great place to come [… to] have a beverage and just stroll downtown,” the Curator said.
The Pocket Museum has already served as a beacon of hope for the commission after the outbreak of COVID-19 robbed them of around two million dollars from peak summer season revenue, thereby slowing plans for the museum’s alley.
The Curator said that, despite the grim circumstances, he knew his staff could complete this project, and decided to collect donations to get back some employees the pandemic forced him to furlough.
“We can still do things,” the Curator said. “[Life] is still going on, and we can still excite the public about what we’re doing.”
The Hattiesburg Pocket Museum currently welcomes around 100 visitors per day on weekends and 35 per weekday. The museum also has new exhibits scheduled through February. September’s exhibit is sure to feel nostalgic, the Curator teased, but the October exhibit might spook you.
“To understand what it is,” the Curator said, “you have to come see it.”
Interested in submitting your own unique collection for display? Visit www.hattiesburgconventioncommission.com and look for the museum’s assistant curator, Milo the Mouse!