Grand Opening


The Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience (The MAX) will open the weekend of April 27–29 with a series of special events and programs for all audiences. The grand opening weekend will begin with a black tie gala on Friday evening April 27.  On the following Saturday, The MAX will offer an exclusive preview for museum members including special performances and programs throughout the day. The official public opening of the museum is Sunday morning, April 29. The following week will be filled with lectures, forums, musical performances, and artist demonstrations.

“We anticipate the grand opening to be one of the most significant events in the state,” said Mark Tullos, President/CEO of The MAX. “We have assembled significant leadership to help plan and organize the event.”

The grand opening is being planned and organized by a volunteer Grand Opening Committee. Committee members include Dottye Graham, Chair, Deidre Bland, Frances Long, Debby Delshad, Beth Clay, Jamie Cater, Helen Valentine, Karen Rush, Joe Norwood, Laura Carmichael, Lloyd Gray, Archie McDonnell, Gayle Callahan, Marilyn Greene, Susan Coffin, Kim Waters, Becky Farley, Cindy McGinnis, Laura Holladay, Barbara Boone and Melanie Mitchell.

Grand Opening Committee Meeting

The MAX grand opening committee and staff will be reaching out to other cultural organizations in Meridian and throughout the state seeking partnerships for additional programming and special events celebrating Mississippi arts. For updates on the grand opening, visit The MAX website at and subscribe to the online newsletter.


The Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience is an equal opportunity employer. Candidates for employment are considered without regard to race, color, sex, creed, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, age, non-job-related disability, or marital status.

The $45 million Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience (The MAX) will be a world-class facility highlighting Mississippi artists and celebrating the contributions of arts and entertainment entrepreneurs in every artistic discipline. Slated to open in late 2017/early 2018 during Mississippi’s bicentennial celebration in the heart of downtown Meridian, The MAX will be a statewide asset with a mission to recognize and honor legendary artists through hands-on exhibits that visually, auditorily, and kinesthetically educate, inform, and entertain every visitor.

The MAX will be housed in an iconic, two-level structure consisting of over 58,000 square feet with 22,000 square feet devoted to visitor experiences. It is being planned and designed by local architect LPK with exhibits by nationally recognized Gallagher & Associates. The unique and informative exhibit design planned for the facility will educate and inspire visitors, having a tremendous impact on Mississippi’s economy. Exhibits are organized around five themes — the land, the home, the community, the church, and the people. Audio and video stories are planned to tell who, what, where, when, why, and how Mississippians have influenced the arts and the creative economy all over the world. The MAX is expected to draw over 150,000 people annually and it will encourage visitors to enhance their Mississippi experience and rich cultural history by exploring other new and existing museums, historic homes, and cultural activities throughout the state.

A Hollywood-style Walk of Fame, unveiled in 2009, will make its way from the nearby Mississippi State University Riley Center to the MAX site. New Walk of Fame stars will accompany the earlier state legends, including Elvis Presley, Jimmie Rodgers, B.B. King, William Faulkner, Morgan Freeman, Walter Anderson, Hartley Peavey, and others. Other elements will include a Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Hall of Fame, gift shop, broadcast studio, art studio, multi-purpose room, outdoor stage, and courtyard that can be used by schools, civic clubs, churches, and individuals for special programs and events.



The MAX is being constructed on one of the most prominent sites in downtown Meridian, the first city in Mississippi with a Designated Entertainment District. The city boasts several architecturally significant historic buildings, including the 1890 Grand Opera House, now fully restored and a part of the MSU Riley Center; the Threefoot Building, an art deco masterpiece that became Meridian’s tallest skyscraper; and Meridian’s Carnegie Library, which now houses the Museum of Art. The Meridian Little Theater and the Dentzel Carousel, which dates from 1896, are other mainstays in the city. The city also has nine recognized historic districts and neighborhoods, including the largest collection of historic buildings in a downtown district in the state.

Meridian is known as “The Strategic Center of the South” and boasts a significant military presence which includes Naval Air Station Meridian and Key Field. Manufacturing, including Peavey Electronics, and health care are also major contributors to the local economy. A dynamic multi-cultural community with a population just over forty thousand, Meridian has a broad reach to larger populations in Jackson, Birmingham, New Orleans, and Memphis. The community also offers a relatively low cost of living with the median home price in Meridian at $85,300.

A Mississippi State University (MSU) campus and the Meridian Community College add to the vibrancy of the city and workforce development. The MSU Riley Center, a strategic partner with The MAX, opened its doors in September 2006 to offer cultural, artistic, and educational experiences like no other in the region. The multifaceted center attracts more than 60,000 visitors to downtown Meridian annually for conferences, meetings, and performances. The center includes the fully restored grand opera house theater that seats approximately 950, a 200-seat studio theater, and 30,000 square feet of meeting space, including a large exhibit hall, breakout rooms, and boardrooms, all equipped with teleconferencing capabilities and built-in technical features to create the optimal meeting environment.