Organizers: Music museum plans are under way

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 16, 2001

FERRIDAY, La. – Creation of a Louisiana Delta Music Museum to display memorabilia from musicians born and raised throughout the region is well under way, according to museum organizers.

&uot;This could be something big,&uot; said Judith Bingham, chairman of the chamber’s museum committee, who spoke Thursday to the Ferriday Rotary Club. &uot;It will be something else to attract visitors to Ferriday, something else to put us on the map.&uot;

Ferriday leaders have been working since early 1999 to organize a museum in the former post office building on Louisiana Avenue. A smaller museum has been located in the Chamber of Commerce’s office on E.E. Wallace Boulevard since 1995.

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Last September, the chamber received a $40,000 state grant to renovate the post office building. Floor repairs have now been completed, replacing of baseboards will soon begin and a contract for lighting work is being negotiated, said Chris Vaughan, president of the museum’s newly formed foundation. It is not yet known when exhibits could be moved to the new facility or when the new museum could be opened.

&uot;We’ll have to wait and see whether the Secretary of State’s Office will take it over,&uot; Vaughan said. &uot;We can’t start moving exhibits until they do.&uot;

Vaughan was referring to a bill that would authorize the Museum Division of the Secretary of State’s Office to operate the new museum.

That bill is expected to be introduced in the Louisiana Legislature’s regular session, which begins late this month.

The new museum foundation is accepting donations of money and artifacts for the museum. &uot;That’s important, because a public body cannot do that,&uot;&160;said Bingham, a former exhibit curator for the Secretary of State’s Office.

The foundation hosted a wine-and-cheese reception on Friday to kick off its membership drive, and about 75 people attended, she said.

Next, she hopes to organize a group of at least 30 volunteers to help staff the new museum.

The current museum features exhibits of six Ferriday natives:&160;musicians Jerry Lee Lewis and Mickey Gilley, blues and jazz artist Leon &uot;Pee Wee&uot; Whittaker, evangelist Jimmy Swaggart, journalist Howard K. Smith and Ann Boyar Warner, wife of Jack L. Warner of Warner Brothers Studios.

But the new museum would feature memorabilia of musicians and other famous people from throughout the Louisiana Delta, all the way to the Arkansas state line, Bingham said.