The Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art mission is to promote and preserve the unique legacy of Biloxi potter George E. Ohr and the diverse cultural heritage of the Mississippi Gulf Coast; and to exhibit works that exemplify the independent, innovative, and creative spirit of George Ohr, emancipated craftsman Pleasant Reed, and Ohr-O’Keefe Museum architect Frank Gehry. This mission is served through compelling exhibitions and educational experiences viewed from a fresh perspective relevant to our community, the region, and the nation with a strong focus on ceramic arts.
The Ohr-O’Keefe Museum is a non-profit fine arts center incorporated in 1993 in Biloxi, MS. The museum began as a branch of the Mississippi Museum of Art. When threatened with closure, plans and funding to organize a new entity were developed, ultimately resulting in the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art. The original museum shared a building with the Biloxi Public Library. When the need for additional space became evident, the Board explored options for a new venue. The capital campaign began in 1998, and renowned architect Frank Gehry agreed to design a museum campus for a vacant four-acre site. A six building complex, under construction when Hurricane Katrina hit in August 2005, would have opened in July 2006. In the wake of Katrina, the museum staff operated from a 256 square foot trailer, bringing art programming to local schools. Fourteen months later, the museum moved to an historic home owned by the City of Biloxi featuring small exhibitions with work by local and regional artists and a representative display of George Ohr ceramics. The Ohr-O’Keefe is known to regularly host exhibits of diverse cultures, including African American and Vietnamese, and has an impressive record of offering cultural and educational events to the local community. The museum has been a Smithsonian Affiliate since 2002. In 2008, a contract was signed to begin rebuilding the new museum. The campus opened in 2010, and consists of our Mississippi Sound Welcome Center, three art galleries, the reconstructed home of Pleasant Reed, and our City of Biloxi Center for Ceramics. These buildings and the exhibits therein offer visitors separate but not isolated experiences – together creating a single unified vision connected by the expansive brick plaza and the majestic Live Oaks.