For the History Buff: Mississippi’s Cottonlandia Museum

Cottonlandia Museum, Mississippi© 2009 Cottlonlandia MuseumWWII uniforms include those of a medical officer (center) and a naval captain (left), who at the time was the highest-ranking woman in the U.S. Navy.

1608 Hwy. 82 W., Greenwood, Mississippi

Despite its name, this is far from being a one-crop museum. Cottonlandia offers a fascinating overview of the archaeological, natural, economic, historical, and social heritage of the Delta.

The museum’s extensive collection of Native American artifacts includes some of the earliest arrow and spear points made on this continent; a few are of the type used about 10,000 B.C. to kill mastodons. You can also see examples of the earliest ceramics produced in the New World: small, fire-hardened clay balls made and used as a source of heat for cooking food by the people of the Poverty Point culture, which thrived in the lower Mississippi Valley some 3,000 years ago.

One of the most valuable—and exquisite—displays is the group of multicolored pottery effigy vessels, which depict a bobcat, deer, fish, opossum, and other creatures in a very naturalistic manner. The vessels date from sometime after A.D. 700.v
The enormous and colorful collection of beads alone makes a visit to this museum worthwhile. Various methods of manufacturing beads are described, along with fashions in beads from prehistoric times. Cotton clothing on display includes World War II uniforms worn by GIs, WACs, and other members of the armed forces.

In 2004 the Leflore County Military History Exhibit opened, focusing on the effect of various wars on Greenwood and its citizens. On display are a working Blakely cannon, a scale model of Fort Pemberton, uniforms, veterans lists, victory posters, and artifacts from the wars.

Relics of King Cotton include a miniature Improved Eagle cotton gin, a John Deere tractor that retired mules from the cotton fields, an 1850 wooden harrow with hand-forged points made by slaves, and a boll weevil catcher.

A hands-on natural-science room and life-size diorama of a Mississippi swamp offer a break from the usual “no touch” rules of most museums.

A large collection of Mississippi artwork graphically displays the range of styles of native artists, from photography to abstract sculpture, watercolor to ceramics, and all things in between.

Open weekdays and P.M. weekends except major holidays. Admission charged.

(662) 453-0925

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