Harrison County cherishes its rich culture and heritage. There are museums and events for everything from local artists to the seafood industry. Historic landmarks are popular places to visit. Social clubs and religious groups range from the Fleur de Lis Society for people of French ancestry to a Buddhist Temple to the Slavic Benevolant Society.
In 2010, the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art, designed by internationally renowned architect Frank Gehry, opened on Biloxi’s beachfront. The spectacular structure houses the works of George Ohr, the self-proclaimed “Mad Potter of Biloxi,” and in 2008 was selected for TIME Magazines’s 2008 Style & Design 100 Issue. Just miles from the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum is the Walter Anderson Museum of Art with works from another famous Mississippi Gulf Coast artist. Both museums are affiliates of the Smithsonian Institute. Other museums in the area include the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum, operating two replica oyster schooners that are available for charters, and the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, a hands-on museum for children.
Year-round festivals also honor artists, as well as the seafood, beachfront lifestyle and culture. Mardi Gras offers weeks of parades and festivities. The Blessing of the Fleet showcases our fishermen as they prepare for the season. And, there’s always a celebration of our local delicacies, including the oyster, crawfish and crab festivals.
Historical landmarks in Harrison County include Beauvoir, the last home of Jefferson Davis; the Biloxi Lighthouse, the most recognizable landmark of our coast; and Fort Massachusetts, a Civil War fort located on Ship Island, which is part of the National Park Service.
The people of Harrison County are a unique mix of many ethnicities and walks of life, and they all have their own traditions and organizations that they treasure. The Slavonian Lodge in Biloxi is a center for Slavic activities. The Vietnamese community still plays a vital role in the seafood industry. And, other customs, like the French fais-do-do, have become annual events that bring the entire coast together.