A palace has risen from the red Mississippi soil at Front Street and 22nd Avenue in Meridian.

Before the black tuxedos and glamorous gowns walked along a red carpet; before paint dried on the last exhibit; and even when the portraits of Morgan Freeman, Elvis Presley and William Faulkner shared the Hall of Fame gallery with yellow tape and construction equipment, the oohs and aahs echoed around the Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience.

Meridian, Lauderdale County, Mississippi now is home to a world-class museum that could equally be the pride of New York, London or Tokyo.

But maybe not, because those places weren’t home to artists such as Robert Johnson, Jimmie Rodgers or Eudora Welty.

Take pride, Meridian. Every city doesn’t get an opportunity like this.

Thank you to the dreamers, the planners, the patrons and the everyday people of Meridian who persisted in turning that red dirt into a reality.

Give glory to God. Take a sip of champagne. Shake some hands. Pat yourself on the back.

But don’t party too long. The work is not done. This weekend is not the end of the dream, but rather a commencement.

The Max’s vision is: “To showcase Mississippi’s global legacy in every area of the arts, honor Mississippi’s legends in arts and entertainment and inspire tomorrow’s artists through exhibitions, performances, classes, and events.”

We place our emphasis on “inspire.”

Most of Mississippi’s legends didn’t enter this world with the promise of the black tuxedos and gowns that adorned the guests at Friday night’s gala.

No, many artists entered a world of poverty, hardships and discrimination.

They learned to imagine, to create, to transform and now to inspire us and our children to thought and, we hope, to experience a better world.

This museum is for the people who come from humble beginnings, like those legends whose portraits now hang among blue and green glass in the Hall of Fame Gallery.

When you pass through The Max, take time to touch the exhibits and create.

Think about how you can create outside the walls and make Meridian, Lauderdale County, Mississippi, a better place.

Then act on those thoughts. Invite your friends and relatives for a visit. Make photos. Post them on social media. Boast to the world.

Meridian, Lauderdale County, Mississippi is a place to visit, to live and to do business.


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