UM Museum, RebelWell Partnership Melds Mental and Physical Exercises

Collaborative activities promote critical thinking and bodily movement

New signs posted along the Bailey’s Woods Trail between the UM Museum and Rowan Oak guide visitors and provide information about the area. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – While most University of Mississippi Museum visitors might visit the galleries to observe the latest art exhibitions, an ongoing partnership with a campuswide health program offers patrons opportunities to add physical exercise to their mental activity.

University Museum and Historic Houses is a RebelWell partner for both meditation and physical activity. Offerings include an interpretive walk on the Bailey’s Woods Trail from the museum to Rowan Oak.

“The activities offered by the museum have the potential to expand beyond physical wellness to other areas of wellness, including social, intellectual, emotional, spiritual and environmental,” said Andrea Jekabsons, UM associate director of human resources. “Wellness is a full integration of these dimensions of well-being. It is a complex interaction that leads to quality of life.”

RebelWell benefits from the partnership by offering another venue and reaching a broader audience, Jekabsons said.

A National Recreation Trail, Bailey Woods Trail links Rowan Oak, William Faulkner’s historic home, to the University Museum. Stretching approximately 3,000 feet, the trail takes about 20 minutes to walk, and bikes are not permitted.

Bailey’s Woods is a heavily wooded area that William Faulkner was known to walk through. Recently, new signage was installed that alerts hikers to collections and learning opportunities at Rowan Oak and the museum.

The trail officially opened in 2008 and has become a popular spot for hikers, Ole Miss classes, families and pets. The trail is incorporated into educational programming at the museum to get children and visitors outside and active.

The museum staff nominated the trail federally in 2012, and it was immediately recognized as a National Recreation Trail.

In any given month, the museum is likely to welcome visitors ranging from 2 to 75-plus years of age, said Robert Saarnio, director of University Museum and Historic Houses.

“Lifelong learning for all ages and 21st century skills are other dimensions of museum community service we tend not to always think of,” he said. “This is not common in Oxford, with the public library being the notable other such public space.”

Saarnio said skills requisite to succeed in contemporary and future society are quite different than they were even 15 years ago.

“Museums – along with our libraries – are committed to imparting skills that are far-ranging as visual literacy, conflict resolution and respectful understanding of our increasingly multicultural fellow citizens,” he said.

Another meditative program offered by the museum is Free Sketch Friday, which is provided thanks to a grant from Lafayette Oxford Foundation for Tomorrow. Scheduled on the first Friday of each month, the event includes free sketching materials, including gallery stools.

The University Museum is open to the public 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays. The museum is closed Sundays and Mondays and regular university holidays. Rowan Oak is open to the public 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 1-4 p.m. Sundays.

Bailey’s Woods Trail and the grounds at Rowan Oak are open from dawn to dusk daily. For more information, visit