Designed by architect Frank O. Gehry and partnews, the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art is located on a four-acre campus in Biloxi, Mississippi. Set within a grove of ancient Live Oak trees, Gehry designed the Ohr-O’Keefe project as a series of six small pavilions woven among the trees and connected by an open brick plaza, creating an inviting and lively arts campus that maintains the existing park setting and encourages pedestrian circulation throughout the site. The entire project employs a micro-pile foundation system intended to minimize impact on the root systems of the Live Oak trees. The use of local materials, the use of references to the local vernacular, and the scale and placement of each of the pavilions on the site, represent sensitive responses to the conditions of the site and to the context of the surrounding area. The 25,000-square-foot Ohr-O’Keefe Museum campus provides facilities for art exhibition and education, and cultural and community events.
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.
The design process took four years:
1999-2003. In 2004, construction began. August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina
heavily damaged or destroyed the buildings which were 18 months from
completion. Rebuilding began in 2008 and Phase I of the campus opened November
2010. Three of the five Gehry designed buildings and two historical structures opened
to the public including: Mississippi Sound Welcome Center, IP Casino Resort Spa
Exhibitions Gallery, Gallery of African American Art, Pleasant Reed
Interpretive Center and the Creel House.
Ten years in the making, the
Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art celebrates the innovative, independent and creative
spirit of its namesake, Mississippi master potter George Ohr. Just as Ohr
(1857-1918) 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. They view this process as an homage to the enduring
Phase II opened in 2012 and includes
the City of Biloxi Center for Ceramics which house the residential ceramic
studio, meeting space, and administrative offices. The first section of the
John S. and James L. Knight Gallery (the “Pods”) which will house the permanent
George Ohr exhibition opened in 2014.
The museum’s mission is to promote
and preserve the unique legacy of Biloxi potter George E. Ohr and the diverse
cultural heritage of the Mississippi Gulf Coast; and to exhibit works which
exemplify the independent, innovative, and creative spirit of George Ohr,
emancipated craftsman Pleasant Reed, and Ohr-O’Keefe Museum architect Frank
Gehry. This mission is served through compelling exhibitions and educational
experiences viewed from a fresh perspective relevant to our community, the
region, and the nation with a strong focus on ceramic arts.