Arts and Culture in Vicksburg, MS

By Joe Morris on March 18, 2013 at 6:36 pm EST


Military history buffs and scholars alike descend in droves on the Vicksburg National Military Park and the nearby Vicksburg Battlefield Museum. But once here they quickly learn that the arts and culture scene in the Red Carpet City of the South encompasses much more than the city’s Civil War legacy.

Confederate Memorials, Museums

The park commemorates the campaign, siege and defense of Vicksburg – the Gibraltar of the Confederacy – prior to its surrender on July 4, 1863, and contains more than 1,340 monuments, a restored Union gunboat and a national cemetery. The museum is the combination of the Vanishing Glory and Gray & Blue Naval museums, and has become so well known for its collection that it was referred to as a “gold mine” by producers for the History Channel’s “Great Ships” series.

Get a top-down view of Vicksburg at the Southern Cultural Heritage Center, a collection of buildings erected between 1830 and 1955. Formerly the St. Francis Xavier Convent and Academy, the compound now is operated by the Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation, and has become a space that celebrates all aspects of the lower Mississippi Delta.

Riverfest, Juneteenth Highlight Festivals Calendar

Above and beyond its rich historical offerings, Vicksburg’s present is dotted with festivals and other activities year-round. From the Vicksburg Mardi Gras Ball to Riverfest, the Chamber Music Festival, Juneteenth heritage celebration, Historic Downtown Fall Festival and Confederate Christmas Ball, calendars here stay full.

With all this to capture, it’s no wonder Vicksburg’s art scene is nationally renowned. A current leading light is H.C. Porter, whose downtown gallery features photographs from her collection and book, “Backyards & Beyond: Mississippians and Their Stories,” which chronicles the devastation and recovery from Hurricane Katrina. There’s also the Vicksburg Art Association, which holds sway over the local scene at its monthly meetings and competitive exhibitions in the landmark Old Constitution Firehouse, the most intact Victorian fire station in the state. And then there’s the Riverfront Mural Project, a recently completed, eight-year effort by artist Robert Dafford to install 32 murals on the downtown floodwall.

Tour Historic Vicksburg Homes, Murals

The home life of Vicksburg’s earlier residents comes alive during the annual Vicksburg Spring Pilgrimage, a tour of homes that opens up 16 of the city’s most historic properties, telling the city’s story from antebellum days through the early 1900s. And on the civic and business side of things, the Old Court House Museum offers up the chance to see where everyone from Ulysses S. Grant to Teddy Roosevelt and Booker T. Washington stood and spoke, while the Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum showcases the beginnings of the legendary soft drink, and houses authentic restorations of its candy store and office area from the 1890s.

Discover more great sites to see in Vicksburg, MS.

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