The Ohr-O’Keefe Museum Of Art Named Best Gallery Or Museum In Mississippi By American Art Awards

Each year the American Art Awards board selects the 25 Best Galleries And Museums In America. reported in 2016: “The impressive AAA board chooses only one museum or gallery per state per year. Their selections are based on years established, industry reputation, online buzz, location, size, socially relevant exhibits, motivational and educational programs, represented artists as well as artist, client and visitor references.”

American Art Awards: “We consider thousands of the most established art venues from Alaska to Florida. This year we chose several museums and art centers with historical significance of 100+ years, some with over 100,000 annual visitors, some specializing in global acquisitions, some American treasures, others offering objects preserving their state’s legacy, and some celebrating one specific artist’s life work. We’ve also selected some of the most reputable art galleries; some which offer every style of international art, others exhibiting works from one region or one genre. A Native-American and an African-American facility are included in our Top 25, as well as a long-standing women’s design institution, a popular Boston sculptor’s co-op, and a Hollywood Warhol hot spot.”

The Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art won the distinction of Best Gallery Or Museum In Mississippi, 2018, and one of American Art Awards 25 Best American Galleries / Museums, 2018.

American Art Awards: “Just as potter/sculptor Ohr, in the late 1800’s, rose from devastating personal and professional loss to create an extraordinary body of work, so too the Ohr-O’Keefe has risen from Hurricane Katrina’s destruction. This newly transformed facility is a magnificent homage to the enduring human spirit and the diverse cultural heritage of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”

THE MAD POTTER OF BILOXI: George Ohr (1857–1918) the self-proclaimed “Mad Potter of Biloxi” created a body of ceramic work which defied the aesthetic conventions of 19th century America. Ohr is considered an early leader in the modernist movement and it is his creative spirit which informs the mission of the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum. His extraordinary cultural legacy is recognized for its power and integrity and for its important influence on 20th and 21st century art. Ohr’s work was rediscovered in the 1960s and is admired by artists and collectors alike.

WORLDWIDE ACCLAIM: In May 2009, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York celebrated the opening of the Robert Ellison Art Pottery Collection on the Mezzanine Balcony of the New American Wing prominently featuring selected works by George Ohr. As Ohr had often predicted, his genius was at long last recognized by the world. Over ninety years after Ohr’s death, it is a fitting tribute to the artist that one of the 21st century’s most admired architects, Frank Gehry, created the Museum’s award winning design.

LOCATION: 386 Beach Boulevard Biloxi, Mississippi 39530 | t:: 228.374.5547 | f: 228.436.3641


The history of George E. Ohr (1857–1919), the self-proclaimed “Mad Potter of Biloxi,” is ripe with creativity and whimsy. Introduced to pottery-making in 1879, Ohr exhibited over 600 pots at the 1885 Fair in New Orleans. Out of his studio in Biloxi, MS, Ohr created unique vessels of all shapes and sizes, experimenting in thin-walled, delicate pots which he manipulated into exotic forms by twisting, denting, ruffling, and folding the clay. His pottery was exhibited at the American World’s Fairs of 1893, 1895, 1901, 1904, and 1905. At the time of his death, Ohr had over 7,000 individual pieces to his name. Nearly half a century later, his work began circulating among art collectors. Though he felt unrecognized for his genius during his lifetime, George has been called the first American artist to produce abstract art, pushing form beyond the functional to the sculptural and presaged the sensibility of color and form that became abstract expressionism in the 1950s.

In a fitting tribute to George, the city of Biloxi erected a museum to honor his legacy. Located under majestic oaks on the beautiful Mississippi Sound, the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art (OOMA) features the ceramics of George as well as contemporary and historic exhibitions. Internationally-renowned architect Frank Gehry designed an award winning campus of five bold, self-sufficient structures which offer separate but not isolated experiences — together creating a single unified vision connected by an expansive brick plaza and majestic live oaks. Each of the buildings, individually and collectively, serves aspects of the Museum’s mission and programming: the Mississippi Sound Welcome Center, the IP Casino Resort Spa Exhibitions Gallery, the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino Gallery of African American Art, the City of Biloxi Center for Ceramics, and the John S. and James L. Knight Galleries.

OOMA’s campus also houses the Pleasant Reed Interpretive Center (PRIC). Reed, a freed slave from Hattiesburg, found success as a carpenter in Biloxi. The Center provides an educational experience in African American history, through Reed’s careful work in the traditional, local style, and a look at urban architecture of nineteenth century Biloxi. To add to the cultural, educational, and historical aspects of the PRIC, the museum opened “A City Within a City: African American Culture in Biloxi” in January of 2018. This exhibit highlights the cultural history of the vibrant, segregated “city within a city” of Biloxi, Mississippi during the post WWII years. Photographs showcased include schools, restaurants, and other businesses owned, operated, and employed by African Americans during that era. The exhibit also provides video testimonies of individuals who lived and worked in this area, recounting its development and progression over the 20th century.

In the City of Biloxi Center for Ceramics, OOMA hosts a variety of studio classes for all age groups. From wheel-throwing to oil painting, date night to family clay play, the studio features a weekly rotation of classes and provides monthly workshops instructed by featured artists from around the country.

As recent as May 2018, the Dusti Bonge Foundation has found a home on the OOMA campus. Bonge, also a native of Biloxi, found success as a surrealist, then later abstract expressionist painter in the mid 20th century. The assimilation of Mississippi made art and artists serves to reinforce and reinvigorate OOMA’s mission — to become the premier source of diversified and engaging art education for children on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. OOMA sees art as a road that leads to self-reflection, creative problem solving, and social change; it creates dynamic and profound interactions that shape personal identities and strengthens our Gulf Coast community. annually awards 25 museums and galleries in Spring, and with their critique in Autumn, awards 300 artists (painters, photographers, sculptors and digital artists).




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Thom Bierdz

One of Medium’s TOP ART CONTRIBUTORS, award-winning author, actor, film-maker, painter. 12 books: 6 on art. President of WAA & AAA.