380 South Lamar Street
Jackson, MS 39201

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The Art Garden - Designing and Activating Public Space

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Mississippi Museum of Art was recently featured in How to Do Creative Placemaking: An Action-Oriented Guide to Arts in Community Development, a resource published by the National Endowment for the Arts. Highlighted as a case study, the Museum’s Art Garden is used as an example of designing and activating public space.

“The book is meant to help people start working with the arts to make their place better,” says NEA Director of Design and Creative Placemaking Jason Schupbach. “We wanted to create something easy to use and full of options for communities to begin doing
this work, or to improve what they have already started.”

How to Do Creative Placemaking features 28 essays from thought leaders active in arts-based community development as well as 13 case studies of projects funded through the NEA’s creative placemaking program, “Our Town.”2016 marks the celebration of the Art Garden’s fifth birthday. Shortly after moving to its current downtown location, the Museum transformed a retired 1.2-acre city-owned parking lot sitting adjacent to its building into an open public park with a lawn and a performance space. The park gives Jackson residents, workers, and visitors a central social space to enjoy their lunch breaks, meet up with friends, or relax after hours. It also provides a venue for the museum and other area arts groups to hold public performances and programs to engage the community with art more directly and entice new audience members. The Art Garden houses intimate outdoor galleries, “classrooms,” performance spaces, outdoor terrace dining, native garden beds, and soothing fountains.

Since its completion, The Art Garden has been home to hundreds of concerts, weddings, Museum After Hours events, painting programs, festivals and more. In spring, the Museum holds its annual Food Truck Festival, where people come to dine with a variety of vendors, enjoy live music, and spend an evening outdoors in the fresh spring air. When an event is not taking place, the public uses the space for exercise, meditation, and reflection.

The Museum is known as Jackson’s front porch, and The Art Garden makes for a lavish yard. To stay up-to-date on information about the Food Truck Festival and other Garden events, sign up for our e-newsletter.