Museum to Host ‘Let’s Move’ Family Activity Day

Drop-in session features trail walk, activities for all ages

Children can explore art and nature and enjoy the outdoors as part of the UM Museum’s ‘Let’s Move’ Family Activity Day. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Museum is hosting its latest “Let’s Move” Family Activity Day this weekend.

The drop-in event is set for 10 a.m. to noon Saturday (May 5) and will combine art and nature throughout the activities, designed for children of all ages. The event is free and open to the public.

Children will get to participate in artistic activities and explore nature along the Bailey’s Woods Trail.

“We hated to have to cancel in the fall due to rain, but we are really looking forward to using our imaginations to travel around the world as we explore the trail,” said Emily McCauley, the museum’s curator of education.

The museum has partnered with RebelWell to provide free Oxsicles, healthy frozen treats made with fresh ingredients and sweetened with honey, to the first 100 people to arrive.

The theme is inspired by the Let’s Move campaign launched in 2010 by first lady Michelle Obama to combat childhood obesity. The museum has been participating in the initiative since 2011, using interactive exhibits and outdoor spaces to engage children.

A parent or guardian must accompany all children during the program. The museum’s Family Activity Days are sponsored by Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi and an Ignite Ole Miss crowdfunding campaign.

For more information, contact McCauley at or 662-915-7073.

UM Museum Opens ‘Ruin is a Secret Oasis’ Exhibit

Artist Maysey Craddock draws inspiration from structures throughout the South

The exhibit ‘Ruin is a Secret Oasis,’ now open at the UM Museum, displays artist Maysey Craddock’s work including this piece, titled ‘Somewhere South of Violet.’ Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – A new exhibit featuring artist-transformed images of ruined structures throughout the South is open at the University of Mississippi Museum.

“Ruin is a Secret Oasis,” by artist Maysey Craddock, references images of objects and places throughout the region. Craddock said she is drawn to mysterious traces of memories, and her pieces seek the sense of place inspired by these sites and work to reflect a story of change.

“I believe ruin, in the sense that it is a place and moment where the traces of human action are falling into the inevitable, is a constant progress that is nature,” Craddock said. “There is a lineage of this in art history and the idea that ruin presents a space for contemplation and collapses time.

“It is, to me, stillness, haunted, history, memory, nature, reclamation, collapse, re-forming, ghost, possibility. In ruin, I find an oasis, a world within our world that is a hush of layers of time and experience.”

Craddock’s work uses opaque pigments in water that are thickened with a binding substance, known as gouache. These intricate works, based on her own photographs of ruined structures near Memphis, Oxford and the Gulf Coast, allow her to explore the fleeting and transitory nature of each landscape.

“In the studio, the photographs are a way for me to continue to be intimate with the landscape, to dive into the wild spaces, find the magic of small moments or openings in the vegetation,” she said. “When I translate the images into drawing, I am re-forming the image to my own hand, distancing it from the photograph and therefore from any kind of literal recording of the original scene.”

The photograph is just a starting point for Craddock, as she also takes time to think about the hues and atmosphere during her physical experience at the site. A line drawing is made from each photograph and then transferred via carbon paper onto a handmade substrate of sewn-together paper bags.

“The use of found paper provides a terrain for the image, retains an object-ness that underscores the image itself,” she said. “In a way, this constructing of the material from found or discarded fragments mirrors the content of the work.

“I paint ruins, on materials that are pieced together from other tiny ruins.

Craddock said one of the most satisfying experiences she has as an artist is when someone sees something out in his or her daily experience in a different way, which in turn affects the way he or she encounters the natural world.

“They would not have noticed it in such a thoughtful way before, but something about seeing my work went with them out into the world, and they slowed down and paid attention to something that was invisible before,” she said. “My work does the same thing for me. It teaches me to be observant, to be awake and aware when I am moving through the world.

“I think the best art continues on with the viewer afterwards. It re-contextualizes how we experience what we see, literally broadening our horizons.”

Maysey Craddock’s work, including this painting titled ‘Gravity Sky,’ is on exhibit at the UM Museum. Submitted photo

Craddock earned degrees from Tulane University and the Maine College of Art, and most of her time is divided between two studios – one in Memphis, Tennessee and one on the Alabama Gulf Coast. Her work has been exhibited across the United States and in Germany and is featured in permanent collections at the Brooks Museum of Art in Memphis and the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock.

Besides artwork, Craddock has worked with other artists and the regional nonprofit grant organization ArtsMemphis to create its inaugural program of grants for individual artists.

“The University of Mississippi Museum is exceptionally honored to be exhibiting the work of Memphis artist Maysey Craddock, a painter we have long admired and whose works in the show ‘Ruin is a Secret Oasis’ have a particularly compelling and evocative power,” said Robert Saarnio, museum director.

“Ms. Craddock has assembled for this show a group of paintings dealing with the idea of architectural ruins and their reclamation in the landscape. She is an artist of great skill, unique creative process and extraordinary conceptual depth – bringing works here to Oxford that we are certain our audiences will find fascinating to view and reflect upon.”

An opening reception for the exhibit is set for 6-8 p.m. April 19. Craddock also will deliver a guest artist lecture and gallery walk-through at 6 p.m. May 3 at the museum. For more information about the museum, visit

Museum Hosts Buie Babies Stroller Tour

Children ages 2 and under can participate in playtime activities with their families

Children under 2 participate in museum activities with their parents. The museum invites families and children to the Buie Babies Stroller Tour on Saturday. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Museum hosts its Buie Babies Museum Stroller Tour from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday (April 7).

Families with babies and toddlers up to age 2 are invited to participate in the tours, which begin at 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. The tour will explore the museum’s latest exhibit by artist Maysey Craddock, “Ruin is a Secret Oasis.”

“We will be sharing the children’s games paintings of Theora Hamblett and exploring sensory play in our newest exhibition of work by Memphis-based artist Maysey Craddock,” said Emily McCauley, the museum’s curator of education. “This is a fun opportunity for even our youngest learners to come and explore the museum.”

Other entertainment will be offered, including playtime activities with toys from the LOU Excel by 5 Coalition’s Lending Library.

The event is free and open to everyone. The museum will also provide snack time for the children and treats and coffee for parents.

For more information, visit             

UM Museum Opens First Gallery in Renovated Mary Buie Wing

Project is one of the most significant expansions in the museum's 78-year history

Dozens of pottery items, including many artifacts that were not previously on display, are housed in the renovated Buie West Gallery of the University Museum. Photo by Marlee Crawford/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Museum has reopened the first of four galleries in its Mary Buie wing, which is undergoing reinstallation to house the David M. Robinson Memorial Collection of Greek and Roman antiquities.

The original Mary Buie Museum, which became a connecting wing upon the opening of the current museum building in 1977, has been vacant for nearly eight years. The reopened Buie West Gallery serves as an introduction to the ancient Mediterranean world.

“The University Museum is exceptionally proud to launch this spring the first of a succession of openings of the galleries of our original 1939 Mary Buie building, now dedicated not only to a reinstallation of these internationally-renowned antiquities collections, but to their reinterpretation – telling their stories in freshly reimagined ways, under the exceptional leadership of collections manager Melanie Munns,” said Robert Saarnio, museum director.

“This is a signature moment in the museum’s 78-year history, greatly augmenting access to these stunning artifacts and transforming the museum’s national profile in the process.”

The gallery contains artifacts not previously on display from Egypt and the Near East, and from ancient Europe. Another section features pottery arranged chronologically from the Bronze Age to the Hellenistic period. A large timeline and multiple maps aid in providing historical and geographical context.

“They give viewers a visual timeline of pottery shape, painting and motifs,” antiquities collections manager Melanie Munns said. “My goal as curator and designer was to use a hierarchy of text and incorporated imagery to increase context and discovery.”

The gallery is open to the public and an opening reception will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday (March 27) as part of the Oxford Art Crawl.

The museum’s antiquities collection at the museum is widely regarded as the finest in the South and one of the best in the country. Most of the collection, containing more than 2,000 artifacts dating from 2500 B.C. to 500 A.D., was part of the personal collection of university professor David M. Robinson.

Because of space constraints, less than 10 percent of the collection is on display. Once the reinstallation is complete in all four galleries, much more of the collection will be accessible to the public, and the variety of objects will paint a better picture of the ancient lives of Mediterranean people.

This project has been ongoing for several years. This portion of the museum was closed in 2010 for renovation and structural repairs. In 2012, the museum received a donation from Marjorie Peddle

The University Museum has reopened the Buie West Gallery, which houses artifacts from the David M. Robinson Greek and Roman Antiquities Collection that dates back to 2500 B.C. Photo by Marlee Crawford/Ole Miss Communications

and family to begin a reinstallation of the collection in those galleries.

Munns has been overseeing the project since 2013.

“Initially we planned an overall theme as a staff with the classics department,” she said.
“At the time, we felt we had the inability to fabricate casework or design elements on our own, so at the beginning of this project we focused heavily on fund- and friend-raising.”

In 2016, the Friends of the Museum allocated some of the funds raised at its annual Harvest Supper to the reinstallation project. With this gift, the museum was able to move from the planning phase to the fabrication phase, even though the overall funding goal had not been reached.

“We decided to open each gallery in phases as funding permitted,” Munns said.

The museum hired preparator Taylor Kite, who began to fabricate standard museum cases, in the fall of 2016.

“His hiring allowed me to make some changes to my approach in design and curation, no longer having the same limitations of prefabrication and standard sizing,” Munns said. “I also was able to find local and affordable options for additional display needs.”

The next step for the museum is to make progress on the second gallery in the Mary Buie building, which is expected to hold 17 custom-made cases of artifacts.

The museum continues to seek resources to complete the reinstallation project. To support the project, click here. Individuals and organizations also can send checks with the fund noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or by contacting Angela Barlow Brown at 662-915-3181 or

University Museum Named Among Nation’s Top 50 College Museums

College Rank highlights its unique collections and historic houses

The UM Museum has been named among College Rank’s 50 Most Amazing College Museums. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Museum was named to College Rank’s 50 Most Amazing College Museums in the country.

This is the third time the museum has appeared on national rankings lists in five years – a first in the museum’s 78-year history.

“Our exceptionally strong collections and exhibitions are experiencing significant increased national visibility, and we are flying into the national museum radar in a significant degree within these publications,” said Robert Saarnio, museum director.

“This is what can happen when a museum such as ours is embraced by its community and supported by a university leadership that understands how arts and culture enrich our campus life and strengthen our institution’s teaching, research and service mission.”

The museum provides the campus and Oxford community with unique collections, annually rotating temporary exhibitions and acclaimed educational programs for lifelong learners of all ages. Its programming for children, schools and families reaches 14,000 young north Mississippians each year.

“The museum’s consistent high ranking among the best college museums in the country is a testament to those who chose it as a repository for treasured collections, and to Robert Saarnio and his staff who preserve and present those collections with such expertise,” said Mary Thompson, a board member for Friends of the Museum.

The Seymour Lawrence Collection of American Art includes an exceptionally significant Georgia O’Keeffe painting as well as work from other 20th century artists including Arthur Dove and Marsden Hartley.

The UM Museum’s Greek and Roman antiquities collection is renowned as one of the nation’s finest. Unique collections are an important factor in the museum being named among College Rank’s 50 Most Amazing College Museums. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

The museum’s collection of Greek and Roman antiquities contains more than 2,000 sculptures, terracotta and bronze artworks, decorated pottery and coins, and a variety of artifacts that date from 1500 B.C. to 300 A.D. The majority of this internationally renowned collection was donated to the university by archaeologist and professor David M. Robinson in 1958.

The Millington-Barnard Collection of Scientific Instruments originated with the university in the 19th century. About 500 instruments that were used to teach Ole Miss students from 1848 to 1861 are housed in the museum.

The museum also has a collection of Southern folk art from the late 19th to 20th centuries by artists using a range of nontraditional materials. The permanent collection contains work by Theora Hamblett, Sulton Rogers, James “Son” Thomas and Pecolia Warner, among many others.

Also part of the museum are historic houses, including Rowan Oak, home of Nobel- and Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Faulkner. This iconic site has attracted visitors from all 50 states and 58 different countries in a recent 12-month period.

Besides its collections, the museum also offers many educational opportunities for members of the community through lectures, adult studio workshops, family activity days, children’s art classes and summer programs.

For more information about the museum, its programs and scheduling a visit, go to

‘No Two Alike’ Exhibit Highlights University’s Unique Collections

Display at the J.D. Williams Library is open through December

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Libraries’ Department of Archives and Special Collections collaborated with the UM Museum to host “No Two Alike,” an exhibit of unusual materials from Mississippi artists and unique art publications from Special Collections’ rare book collection.

The latest exhibit at the Department of Archives and Special Collections in the J.D. Williams Library features iPads to provide a more in-depth experience for visitors. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

The exhibit, open through Dec. 14 in the Faulkner Room of the J.D. Williams Library, includes paintings, pottery, woodcarvings and sculpture from the museum paired with archival materials from Special Collections to provide context. The exhibit also features four iPad stations, offering an enhanced view of selected pieces in the display.

“Special Collections is honored to be a part of this collaboration with the University Museum,” department head Jennifer Ford said. “This pairing of artwork with archival materials has greatly enhanced this exhibition.”

Visitors can find pottery from Biloxi artist George Ohr, whose “No Two Alike” description of his work helped create the exhibition title. The display also includes paintings and handwritten notes from Theora Hamblett, woodcarvings from Sulton Rogers and original sculptures from blues musician James “Son” Thomas, among many other materials from different artists. Also showcased is an original copy of William Faulkner’s handmade book “Marionettes,” as well as cartoons drawn by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Eudora Welty.

UM student Jocelyn Jarrett uses one of the iPads to explore the ‘No Two Alike’ exhibit in the J.D. Williams Library’s Department of Archives and Special Collections. Submitted photo

“The museum explores and appreciates every opportunity to partner with the Archives and Special Collections team, who are in every respect our analogous institutional peers in their mandate to preserve university collections and make them creatively and accessibly available to students, scholars and the community,” said Robert Saarnio, museum director. “That they are such a highly skilled and enjoyable group of colleagues only makes these partnerships all the more successful and, I would add, mutually beneficial.”

This collaboration brings significantly meaningful educational value to the audiences that study and reflect upon the various collections housed at the university, he said.

“We were very excited when Jennifer brought the concept for ‘No Two Alike’ to us, and there wasn’t a moment’s hesitation in our concurring and joining the planning process,” Saarnio said. “The exhibition outcome is simply wonderful in its many layers of exploration and celebration of these artists, authors and creative talents whose works and archives we hold in our respective collections.”

Ford said the exhibit would not have been possible without the efforts of the entire Special Collections staff and Saarnio and the museum staff, especially collections manager Marti Funke, along with UM videographer Mary Stanton-Knight. She also credited the support of Cecilia Botero, dean of university libraries.

“Robert and his very talented staff could not have been more enthusiastic and encouraging throughout the planning process and execution of the installation,” Ford said.

The exhibit, on the third floor of the J.D. Williams Library, is open to the public 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, excluding university holidays. For more information, contact Ford at or call 662-915-7408.

Conservator Completes Work on Three Marble Busts at UM Museum

Amy Jones Abbe's weeklong residency also included lectures and public presentations

Conservator Amy Jones Abbe gives the Bust of an Unknown Roman a careful cleaning as part of her residency at University Museum. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Amy Jones Abbe, one of the country’s most respected conservators of Greek and Roman sculpture, enjoyed a brief residency at the University of Mississippi Museum last week.

The Athens, Georgia, resident divided her time between restoring three busts in the museum’s David M. Robinson Greek and Roman Antiquities Collection and speaking about her work to inquisitive Ole Miss and local elementary school students.

“This has been a real pleasure for me,” Abbe said, taking a brief break from cleaning the Bust of an Unknown Roman, a marble head dating to 90-120 A.D. in Tivoli, Italy. “I love working on ancient antiquities, and was thrilled when I was extended the invitation to come here.

“The Robinson Collection has a lot of great pieces. I don’t find many such collections in the South, so this makes me very happy.”

With a lighted magnifying glass mounted to her own head and small vials containing various cleaning solutions nearby, Abbe gave painstakingly slow and meticulous care to the bust as it laid on a gurney in the museum’s Mary Buie Gallery. She explained the conservation treatment process.

“I begin with a surface cleaning, followed by testing a range of cleaning options, choosing the mildest and most effective one,” Abbe said. “I vacuum, dust and use a water-based solution that is slightly alkaline. If the conservation merits something stronger, I use an ammonium nitrate solution.”

Depending on a variety of factors, such as the quality of the stone, contaminants and their combinations, she may use soft vinyl erasers at some point in the process.

“It’s rare for anything to be uniformly soiled,” she said. “Environmental pollution is often acidic and can etch the marble over time. These pieces are not too dirty at all.”

Once the sculpture was clean, Abbe addressed areas that needed retouching.

“The trick is to maintain the piece after it has been treated,” she said. “The more regularly conservation is done, the less likely there will be preservation issues.”

Besides working on the busts, Abbe made several presentations to Ole Miss faculty and students, as well as Oxford elementary school students. She spoke to UM Roman archaeology and art history classes and the Vasari Society, a campus art history club, and ended her time in Oxford with a public talk about her work Friday afternoon at the museum.

UM faculty members who attended Abbe’s presentations gave rave reviews for them and her work.

Several marble busts are among the more than 2,000 items in the Robinson Greek and Roman Antiquities Collection in the University Museum. Submitted photo

“I’m thrilled that my students got a chance to see this work in action because conservators are always behind what people see when they go to museums,” said Jacqueline Dibiase, assistant professor of classics. “Hopefully, this experience has given them a deeper appreciation for the antiquities collection here at the University Museum. Perhaps some of them might even consider becoming conservators themselves one day.”

Aileen Ajootian, professor of classics and art, said Abbe’s work has been “remarkable and inspiring.”

“The role of a conservator is critical to any museum,” she said. “The university has a lot of wonderful antiquities that have not seen attention for a long time.

“What Ms. Abbe has done already has been remarkable. And for the students to see a conservator in action has been really inspiring.”

Students seemed likewise impressed with Abbe and her work.

“I thought she was really great,” said Hunter Myers, a senior classics major from Mountain Home, Arkansas. “Until today, I wasn’t aware of how many important pieces, particularly the Head of Aeschines, the museum had.

“Being a classics major, seeing these sculptures and hearing about how they are preserved has definitely made me think differently about a lot of things.”

Oxford resident Virginia Parson said Abbe’s talk was “really cool.”

“What she discussed matched perfectly with what I’ve been studying,” said the junior anthropology and biology major, who also is pursuing a minor in classics. “Seeing the intersection of art history, fine art and chemistry involved in being a conservator has made me consider it as a career possibility after I finish graduate school.”

Abbe was particularly enthusiastic about speaking to students, both young and older.

“I want the children to discover that conservation exists and how important it is to keeping the statues they see in good condition,” she said. “I’m glad to be a part of broadening their perspectives and letting them see the enormous varieties of experiences the world has to offer.”

As for the university students, Abbe remembered her own undergraduate exposure, which eventually led to her present occupation.

“I really discovered my love of sculpture in college while taking a classics course as an elective,” Abbe said. “I was a pre-med major at the time, but after taking that course, I switched to classics. I participated in an actual excavation and really loved it.”

By the time she finished her degree at New York University, Abbe knew she wanted a career in classical antiquities, but not as an academic.

“I moved to Washington, D.C., and began working in museums,” she recalled. “That led to me earning my graduate degree at the University of North Carolina (at) Chapel Hill and becoming a conservator.”

This is the first conservation work performed on the museum’s collection in more than 20 years, said Melanie Munns, antiquities collections manager. Hopefully, it will not be the last.

“The University Museum is only able to conserve objects as funding permits,” Munns said. “We started a conservation fund dedicated to the Robinson Collection five years ago with an initial donation gifted by the Daughters of Penelope, Memphis chapter.

“It is with their accrued donations, funds from the Robinson Reinstallation Project and the Friends of the Museum that we are able to conduct this conservation work.”

The Friends of the Museum has pledged further funding for conservation that should allow work to be performed on another piece, possibly more, in coming months, Munns said.

“We hope to perform annual conservation work,” she said. “With over 2,000 objects in the Robinson Collection, we foresee this type of programming could continue for many years to come.”

Abbe is also cleaning two Greek vases from the UM collection at her Georgia studio. If the conservation efforts continue, she would gladly return to campus.

“Oxford is a lovely place,” she said. “Coming back here to do more of what I love doing would be a dream come true.”

For more information, call University Museum at 662-915-7028.

Conservator Visiting UM Museum to Examine Marble Sculpture Collection

Amy Jones Abbe to assess selected pieces and advise staff on their preservation

Several marble busts are among the more than 2,000 items in the Robinson Greek and Roman Antiquities Collection in the University Museum. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – One of the country’s most respected conservators of Greek and Roman sculpture is visiting the University of Mississippi Museum this week to review its collection and share her expertise.

Amy Jones Abbe of Athens, Georgia, will be on campus through Friday (Jan. 30-Feb. 2) to work on ancient marble sculptures from the David M. Robinson Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities. This is the first conservation work done on the museum collection in more than 20 years.

“Amy Abbe will begin with the three sculptures we have installed in the first gallery of the Mary Buie building,” said Melanie Munns, the museum’s antiquities collections manager. “She will first examine these sculptures to determine where past repairs were made and how by performing tests in small areas.

“It’s possible that two of these sculptures will just need cleanings and touch ups with paint. The third, the Head of Aeschines, may need further assessment to determine the approach to its added coarse plaster nose.”

During the week, Abbe also is scheduled to speak to UM students enrolled in anthropology, classics and Roman archaeology classes, as well as to groups of local elementary school students in the Museum Art Zone program.

Abbe will give a brief talk in the Museum’s Speakers Gallery at 4:30 p.m. Friday (Feb. 2). The free, public event will be followed by light refreshments.

Amy Jones Abbe

“The University Museum is only able to conserve objects as funding permits,” Munns said. “We started a conservation fund dedicated to the Robinson Collection five years ago with an initial donation gifted by the Daughters of Penelope, Memphis chapter.

“It is with their accrued donations, funds from the Robinson Reinstallation Project and the Friends of the Museum that we are able to conduct this conservation work.”

The Friends of the Museum have pledged further funding for conservation that should allow work to be performed on another piece, possibly more, in coming months, Munns said.

“We hope to perform annual conservation work,” she said. “With over 2,000 objects in the Robinson Collection, we foresee this type of programming could continue for many years to come.”

Before launching her own art conservation studio in 2011, Abbe was a conservator at museums in Florence, Italy; New York City; Washington, D.C.; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Baltimore. She earned her degrees from New York University and the University of North Carolina.

For more information, call University Museum at 662-915-7028.

UM Museum, Ford Center Host Weekend of Holiday Festivities

Music, activities and a winter wonderland on tap to help families get into the spirit

The Holiday Village, featuring an enchanting array of edible structures, is open Dec. 1-15 at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts and the University of Mississippi Museum have a weekend of fun-filled holiday activities scheduled for the whole family.

The Ford Center invites families to an evening celebrating the holiday season Friday, (Dec. 1) with “Amahl and the Night Visitors” and “Handel’s Messiah.”

Gian Carlo Menotti’s renowned one-act opera “Amahl and the Night Visitors” shows how faith, charity, unselfish love and good deeds can produce miracles. The performance is a collaborative project involving alumni, students and community members.

Ole Miss alumnus Paul Gamble will sing “Balthazar” during the performance and university opera theatre and dance students will perform in several roles. Six community guests also will join opera students in the Shepherds’ Chorus, including Oxford dentist Walker Swaney, emeritus music faculty Cynthia Linton, College of Liberal Arts project coordinator Patti O’Sullivan, theatre arts staff member Ed Neilson, alumna Sissy Neilson and Oxford attorney Jim DeLoach.

The second half of the night features “Handel’s Messiah.” The hourlong production includes performances by the UM Choir, a select orchestra and alumni guest artists as soloists, including Allison Stanford, Viola Dacus and Kyle Davis.  The orchestra of professional musicians and students is conducted by Selim Gray, professor of music and orchestra, and UM Choirs, conducted by Don Trott, professor of music and director of choral activities, also will perform.

These performances are made possible through funding by Nancye Starnes and the Kite Foundation.

Tickets for the show are available at the UM Box Office, inside the Ford Center. They are $30 for orchestra/parterre and tier 1 box levels, $26 for mezzanine and tier 2 box levels, and $18 for the balcony level. A 20 percent discount is available for Ole Miss faculty, staff and retirees when tickets are purchased at the box office. Tickets also can be purchased online at

The UM Museum will host a Santa’s Workshop Family Activity Day on Saturday (Dec. 2). The drop-in workshop, set for 9 a.m.-noon, will allow participants of all ages to create seasonal art, eat holiday snacks and learn about winter wonders, including holidays from around the world.

The museum also will have a sensory play area for the youngest artists, and all ages are welcome to participate.

Children create their own holiday-inspired art at last year’s installment of the UM Museum’s Santa’s Workshop. Submitted photo

“Santa’s Workshop is one of our favorite events as we celebrate the magic of winter, snow and holidays,” said Emily McCauley, the museum’s curator of education. “We also hope to expand our horizons this year and look at what is happening around the world during the winter holidays.”

Santa does not attend the event, but participants can take a Flying Tuk sleigh ride between the museum and the Ford Center’s Holiday Village, a collection of locally-themed gingerbread houses.

“We are so thrilled to have the Flying Tuks partnering for rides to the Holiday Village again, as that was a highlight from last year’s event,” she said.

The museum’s Family Activity Days are sponsored by Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi and the Ignite Ole Miss campaign. For more information about Santa’s Workshop Family Activity Day, contact McCauley at To keep up with museum exhibits and upcoming events, visit

The Holiday Village will feature 19 gingerbread houses, made entirely from edible confections. The Ford Center also is adding a miniature Christmas Village to celebrate holiday traditions from around the world.

The village is also open for group reservations, which can be scheduled by contacting marketing director Kate Meacham at 662-915-6502 or

Here is the full schedule of Holiday Village Hours:

Friday (Dec. 1) – 1-7:30 p.m.

Saturday (Dec. 2) and Sunday (Dec. 3) – 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Monday (Dec. 4) – 1-7:30 p.m. Guests can visit the village after the Oxford Christmas parade for hot chocolate.

Tuesday (Dec. 5) through Friday (Dec. 8) – 1-5 p.m.

Saturday (Dec. 9) – 1-5 p.m. The Oxford Civic Chorus will perform at 1 p.m., and Santa will be in the village from 1 to 4 p.m.

Sunday (Dec. 10) – Noon-3 p.m.

Monday (Dec. 11) through Friday (Dec. 15) – 1-5 p.m.

For more information, visit

UM Museum Unveils 2017 Keepsake Ornament

This year's design features popular 19th century scientific instrument

The UM Museum’s 2017 keepsake ornament featuring Barlow’s Planetarium is available for purchase. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Museum has unveiled its 17th annual keepsake ornament, a design featuring the Barlow’s Planetarium, part of the collection of antique scientific instruments on display at the museum.

The planetarium, also known as an orrery, has a storied history with Ole Miss. Designer Thomas H. Barlow of Lexington, Kentucky, who created and sold several of these instruments to universities and museums throughout the United States, made the university’s orrery in 1854.

The ornaments alternate annually between highlights of the museum’s 20,000-object permanent collection, campus landmarks and sites around Oxford, said Robert Saarnio, museum director.

“This mid-19th century astronomical model occupies a place of great prominence in the museum’s exhibition galleries and is a much-beloved historical artifact of countless museum visitors,” Saarnio said. “All ornament sales proceeds directly support programs of the University Museum, and we are very grateful to those campus and community members for whom these collectibles are eagerly-awaited annual Museum Store offerings.”

In the late 1850s, Chancellor F.A.P. Barnard, who also served as chair and professor of mathematics, astronomy and natural philosophy, purchased the orrery for the university. The orrery and other scientific instruments were used in classrooms and laboratories until they became obsolete in the 1870s.

The planetarium aligns the planets based on a specific date. At the museum, the date is set to Nov. 7 1848, the day the university first opened its doors to students.

The Barlow’s Planetarium commemorative ornament is available for $25, plus tax. It can be purchased in the Museum Store or by phone with a credit card at 662-915-7073. A flat $7 shipping and handling fee will be added to all orders to be shipped within the 48 contiguous states, and all sales are final.

Orders must be placed by Dec. 13 to arrive in time for Christmas Day.

Collectible ornaments from previous years still available in the Museum Store include the Old Skipwith House, Brandt Memory House, Ventress Hall, Lafayette County Courthouse, Oxford City Hall, the Ole Miss Women’s Basketball Jersey, Theora Hamblett House, Theora Hamblett’s “Christmas Trees,” Walk of Champions, Oxford’s Double Decker Bus and the Herakles Neck Amphora. All previous year’s ornaments are $20, plus tax.

Museum members and Friends of the Museum receive a 10 percent discount on all merchandise in the Museum Store. 

The University Museum is at the corner of University Avenue and Fifth Street. Holiday Hours for the Museum Store are 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, and 10a.m.-6p.m. Saturdays.
Museum gallery visiting hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays.

For information about events and exhibits, visit