How did it start and what treasures does it hold?
In the summer of 1997, five citizens of Tunica met and agreed that Tunica needed a museum to serve as a repository for its artifacts, an immersion in its history and a forum to consider its future. They developed a mission statement:
The Tunica County Museum will interpret the history of Tunic County through exhibits, education programs, research and collections. Topics include the natural setting, Native American prehistory, early European exploration and settlement, and 19th and 20th century social, agricultural, institutional, political, military and commercial history. The exhibits will reflect the rich ethnic diversity of the County.
The five citizens also prepared a proposal for presentation to the Tunica County Supervisors.
At the meeting of August 15, 1997, the Supervisors moved unanimously to approve the creation of Tunica Museum stating, “proceed with the formation of a non-profit corporation full speed ahead.”
The five citizens became the Founding Board of Directors March 31, 1998.
Founding Board of Directors, Tunica Museum, Inc.
President: Bobby H. Papasan
Secretary: Brooks Taylor
Treasurer: Ellis E. Koonce, Jr.
Vice-Pres: W.C. McLean, Jr.
Director: Ellis W. Darby
Bard E. Selden, Jr. has served as Counsel since Tunica Museum, Inc.’s beginning.
Tunica Museum opened its doors to the public Sunday, June 30, 2002.
Present Board of Directors:
President: Bob Gann
Secretary: Mary Don Koonce
Treasurer: Richy Bibb
Vice-Pres: David Klimack
Director: Will McClean
Director: Richy Bibb
Director: Rechelle Siggers
Museum Director: Richard Taylor
Collections Manager: Darlene Griffith
Museum Host: Gladys Ware
Museum Host: George Vinzant
The Museum Building
Architect: Pryor and Morrow
Builder: Panola Construction Company, Inc.
Fabricator: Advance Manufacturing Company
Square Ft.: 28,000
Land: 6.2 acres
Exhibit Space: 6500 sf.
Exhibit Space: 1600 sf.
& Workshop: 6500 sf.
Orientation: 1600 sf.
Courtyard: 11,000 sf.
Main Exhibit Topics:
The Hardwood Forest
Early Inhabitants / Native Americans
DeSoto Expedition / Discovery of the Mississippi
Plantation Life / Cooking
The Great Migration
Blues & Gospel Music
Veteran’s Military Memorial Hallway
Sons & Daughters of Tunica County
Tunica Museum, Inc. owns and operates the Tate Log House located in downtown Tunica. The dogtrot style log house was built circa 1840 and is the oldest structure in the county.
Inside the permanent exhibit galleries of Tunica Museum you will learn the rich and colorful history of the area now known as Tunica County. The county and Town of Tunica take their name from the Tunica Indians who once inhabited this land before migrating south. After the Tunica the Chickasaw Indians controlled the area. Eventually all of the land of Tunica County was sold by the Chickasaw to settlers. The early settlers either worked the land themselves or with slaves brought from the east. Trees were removed and plantations began the production of cotton. The first towns and county seats in the county were river landings named Commerce and Austin. (And Peyton for 6 months.)Austin was attacked twice during the Civil War. Eventually after a flood moved the river two miles from the county seat of Austin in 1882, and the railroad built a depot in Tunica in 1884, the County Seat moved to Tunica in 1888. Up until World War II Tunica County grew in population. From the 20s to the 60s Tunica County contributed heavily to the creation of the musical form known as the Blues. After WWII and the introduction of the tractor and later the mechanical cotton picker, jobs began dissappearing and the population declined as people headed north to look for work.
During the Civil Rights movement Tunica County managed to hold itself together and became a nationally known place in 1985 after it's Sugar Ditch notoriety. In its struggle to improve itself the county tried gaming in 1992. Since then the county has flourished, created over 16,000 gaming related jobs for its own citizens and the citizens throughout the area and from around the world. It has become the nation's third largest gaming destination and has become a premier resort and getaway area. Over 6000 hotel rooms can easily room the conventions, groups and 15 million visitors who make Tunica County their choice for fun each year.
From the paths of the Indians to the floors of the gambling casinos Tunica County has come a long way, and is going further.