About the Museum
In 1969, Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Jim Buck Ross, recognizing a need for the preservation of our culture and heritage in a tangible way, began collecting artifacts, organizing scholars, and laying a ground work for a museum. In 1978, the City of Jackson donated a valuable 39 acre site on Lakeland Drive and Interstate 55. This land could only be used for recreational purposes under specified stipulations of the State of Mississippi, which originally had owned the land. In that same year, the Mississippi Legislature appropriated $1.5 million for the construction of the Museum building. Funds from this appropriation were used to complete the structure itself and another $1.5 million was sought from the private sector by the non-profit Agriculture and Forestry Museum Foundation. The money raised by the foundation was used to construct permanent exhibits, a living history farm, an entire crossroads town, and a forest study area.
Historically, our American lifestyle, economy, and work ethic were immersed in agricultural and forestry industries. Today, while these industries are still a major factor in our nation’s economy, our lifestyle and work are almost completely removed from their overt influence. The Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum was conceived to chronicle the technological and economic developments which led to changes in our quality of life. Mississippi is in a prime position to tell the story. Our agricultural and forestry history parallels America’s development, and both industries are still dominant in the state’s economy. Mississippi’s shift from a rural to an urban society is more recent and, therefore, more easily documented.
The Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum and the National Agricultural Aviation Museum tell the story of agriculture and forestry as the state’s and region’s two most important industries. This story is centered around people—farmers, loggers, sawmill workers, agricultural aviators—and the way they have used determination, creativity, experimentation, and adaptability producing a proud heritage for the South. The Museum was designed to preserve artifacts of the agricultural and forestry industries and to chronicle the achievements as well as the disappointments of our people as it presents a cultural and economic rather that political view of history.