Vision & History

Vision

When you talk Mississippi, you’re talking Elvis Presley, Morgan Freeman, Sela Ward, William Faulkner, Jim Henson, Tennessee Williams, B. B. King, Oprah Winfrey, James Earl Jones, John Grisham, Eudora Welty, Leontyne Price, Walter Anderson, Faith Hill, Jimmy Buffett, Robin Roberts, Bob Pittman, Hartley Peavey, Jimmie Rodgers and the list goes on.

What if we could tell the stories of these legendary Mississippians together, in one place? What if we could show the overwhelming impact of Mississippi’s creative legacy to locals and visitors alike? What if we could honor the legends of our past, and inspire the young artists of the future? These ideas shaped the vision of The Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience, or THE MAX, for short.

THE MAX will showcase Mississippi’s legacy in every area of the arts, honor Mississippi’s worldwide legends in arts and entertainment, and inspire tomorrow’s artists to follow their own creative passions.

To achieve this vision, THE MAX will:

  • Recognize and honor Mississippi artists in all disciplines
  • Be a place of creativity, entertainment and learning
  • Celebrate our legacy in the arts through education, exhibitions and performances
  • Steer visitors to other museums within the state, forming a partnership that benefits all Mississippi regions and their legacies, from Tupelo’s Elvis, to Indianola’s B. B. King, to Pascagoula’s Jimmy Buffett, to Jackson’s Eudora Welty, to Ocean Springs’ Walter Anderson, and many others.
  • Contribute to the state’s economy by adding jobs and generating additional tourism dollars for area businesses
  • Have a cultural impact that extends far beyond the borders of Mississippi

History

In 2001, the Mississippi State Legislature enacted Senate Bill #2666 establishing the Southern Arts and Entertainment Center, Inc., now known as The Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience.

Over the next decade, THE MAX made slow but steady progress toward fundraising goals, despite financial blows from Hurricane Katrina and an economic recession.

To date, the State of Mississippi has pledged $29 million to the project. An additional $14 million has been pledged from private businesses and individuals within the State and fundraising continues. The project is anticipated to attract 150,000 guests per year and generate millions of dollars annually for Mississippi’s economy.

A Hollywood-Style Walk of Fame was unveiled on February 15, 2009, which leads from the MSU Riley Center to the entrance of THE MAX. New stars are continually added.

Groundbreaking of THE MAX took place on October 3, 2015. Grand Opening is expected in 2018.

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The MAX
Construction on March 15, 2017