Smithsonian exhibit coming to Ferriday

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 14, 2008

FERRIDAY — For those who always wanted to go to one of the Smithsonian Museums but never had the opportunity, this week the Smithsonian will be coming to them.

Today, the Smithsonian traveling exhibit New Harmonies will arrive at the Delta Music Museum. It will be fully assembled later this week and will officially open to the public Oct. 23.

The exhibit, a celebration of American roots music, is tailored for each stop, and in Ferriday it will be dedicated to music that grew out of the Mississippi River delta.

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The exhibit will officially close at Le Musee de la Ville de Kaplan in Kaplan, La., Wednesday.

Vicky Betts, the corresponding secretary for the Kaplan museum, said the opening of the exhibit there was slowed by the hurricanes earlier in the season, but since the pace picked up people have been going through the exhibit “constantly.”

“We focused more on Cajun, because that is where we are and what we are,” Betts said.

The physical exhibit that will be delivered today will feature interactive sound kiosks, but the overall exhibit will also feature musical and educational performances every Saturday until it closes Dec. 5.

“The performers or speakers are going to be giving informational performances where they discuss the type of music we are hosting that weekend,” Delta Music Museum Director Judith Bingham said.

Even though the exhibit will not be officially open, this Saturday will be the first performance. Ferriday’s native sons Hezekiah Early and Hiram F. “Pete” Gregory, two blues musicians, will discuss the role Ferriday played in the development of Delta blues.

When the exhibit opens, members of the Smithsonian Museum will be present.

“As far as I am aware, this is the first stop in Louisiana that a member of the echelon of the Smithsonian is coming to an exhibit,” Bingham said.

The Delta Music Museum was chosen to host the exhibit after the Friends of the Delta Music Museum Foundation applied for a grant with the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.

At the same time, the Museum on Main Street program — the extension of the Smithsonian from which the New Harmonies exhibit originates — was targeting rural towns to host the exhibit, so the museum applied, Bingham said.

The Louisiana Secretary of State’s office operates the Delta Music Museum.

Ferriday Mayor Glen McGlothin said, though the it was already slated to come at the time he went into office, the exhibit fits perfectly with his goal of seeing Ferriday become a music Mecca.

“(The Friends of the Museum) have done a great job, and we are excited about seeing the exhibit here,” McGlothin said.