By Marrisa McCardell

The City of Hattiesburg was recently recognized at the 2022 Conference for Alabama- Mississippi Chapters of the American Planning Association for its Pocket Museum.

The museum received the “Great Public Space” award, in which the APA recognizes the public spaces that exemplify how the built environment can create culturally important spaces.

With the alleyway now serving as a hub for art events and gatherings downtown, Hattiesburg Convention Commission Executive Director Rick Taylor said the idea for the museum started prior to COVID.

“Before the pandemic, the city had to put new gas lines in, so it tore up the alley,” Taylor said. “I had been talking with Mayor (Toby) Barker about what we could do with the alley and things just sort of aligned.

“The repaving of the alley opened the opportunity to really make it beautiful. And then of course the pandemic hit, so our staff decided to create the pocket museum.”

According to the city, the Pocket Museum attracts around 3,000 visitors on a slow week and about 7,000 on a busy week.