The Cotton Museum will be closed on Sunday, April 21, 2019, in observance of Easter. Please come and visit us when we reopen on Monday, April 23rd at 10AM.
The Farm and Gin Show for 2019 will be held at the Cook Convention Center March 1st and 2nd. This marks the 67th year for the Farm and Gin Show and it is getting bigger and better every year.
Look for The Cotton Museum booth at the Gin Show and get a 2 for 1 admission to the museum. Your visit to the Bluff City would not be complete without stopping by the museum and seeing where it all began.
WE WILL BE OPEN ALL WEEKEND. OUR HOURS ARE FRIDAY AND SATURDAY, 10AM-5PM, AND SUNDAY NOON-5PM. OUR LAST ADMISSION IS 4PM EACH DAY.
WILL BE CLOSED ALL DAY ON THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2019, FOR A PRIVATE EVENT.
Every day at the Cotton Museum, we encounter those who have never heard much about cotton and those who never want to hear about it again. The Cotton Museum at the Memphis Cotton Exchange is a history museum. It is also an agricultural museum. But, perhaps, it is mostly a cultural museum. In earlier times, cotton caused the convergence of cultures creating many new concepts and practices along the way. This continues today, and we see it happening daily.
In the past year, we have hosted neighbors, tourists, and business people from near and far. There have been those who came to reminisce and those who came to discover. The one thing they all have in common is a desire for information. The Cotton Museum enjoys the privilege of educating people about “the plant that changed the world.” It is for this reason, I typically refrain from identifying any of our guests as students. They are all students. It is an honor to be given the opportunity to encounter so many who are motivated by knowledge. We believe we fulfill a noble mission. Support from our contributors affords us this opportunity.
The donations we receive allow us to be generous in granting reduced admission to schools. This results in our being a perennial favorite among teachers when planning field trips. In 2018, we granted free and reduced admission to over 1,000 children. These are children who more than likely would not have the opportunity to visit a museum such as ours; but, more importantly, they are children who would not likely choose to visit either. Yet, because of our supporters, they have been here, and others continue to come.
We recently have had school groups from Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Charleston, West Virginia; Santa Fe, New Mexico; and, Buffalo Island, Arkansas. Delta State from Cleveland, MS, makes us a regular stop for their annual teacher symposium. Lemoyne Owen students dropped by last week to conduct interviews for a semester project. Also, C-SPAN taped a segment for their Cities program in our History Gallery. Your support allows us to continue to accommodate these and others with accurate information in an entertaining format.
This summer, the museum had a booth through Lausanne Learning Institutes at the new Crosstown High School. We were able to meet with hundreds of teachers and supply them with information on the museum. The funds received from our faithful donors enabled us to print a curriculum guide for distribution to these teachers as well as others.
We also had booths for distributing information with the Tennessee Department of Tourism and manned tables at the I-55 Welcome Center and the Mud Island Welcome Center. The Cotton Museum also had tables and supplied information at the 2018 Farm and Gin Show at the Cook Convention Center; National Ag Day celebration at the Ag Center; Memphis Public Library for their Libraries Rock! 2018 Explore Memphis summer initiative; and, we partnered with the Pink Palace Museum for the Tennessee STEAM Festival; and, also, the Church Health Center’s Screen Free Week project. Additionally, we were the benefit of the month for February for WKNO. These are all ways our members and contributors have enabled us to tell the story of cotton beyond the confines of our museum.
As a result of participation in several of these events, I was given the opportunity to attend Cotton, Incorporated’s Women in Agriculture conference in Cary, North Carolina. I not only learned volumes about the cotton industry but had my own appetite for knowledge further whetted. I have been eager to learn more of the story of cotton and have recently read, The Empire of Cotton by Sven Beckert, and The American Plague by Molly Caldwell Crosby. These books have been instrumental in giving me a greater understanding of the cultural changes which continue to this day brought about by cotton. I am convinced my eagerness to share this has enhanced the museum experience for others.
Recently, our museum hosted a photography exhibit entitled “Four Kinds of Y’all” by a group of noted photographers known as Due South. This exhibit began with an open house attended by hundreds including an entire bus full of people who had come from the Jackson, MS, area. Our History Gallery lends itself well as an art space and this exhibit’s unique look at southern culture was appropriate to our overall mission. However, our focus was the positive attention it garnered for the museum. We were in the Top Ten Things to Do in Memphis This Weekend in the newspaper and the show was given several additional write ups in various publications.
These are examples of how support from our faithful donors is multiplied both within the museum and far beyond it.
In the last few months, we have helped to celebrate a young couple who wanted to honor the ties their families have with cotton as they began a new life together. We have had men from Manchester, England, who reminisced and shared tales of how the cotton mills had brought their parents together over a hundred years ago; yet, they knew little about cotton before coming to our museum. A great grandmother brought her granddaughter by to see her grandfather’s name on the registry of past Exchange presidents. Third graders from The came to find out how the Mississippi River was used in the creation of Memphis. Teachers serving special needs classes came to let their students experience what it was like to pick cotton and stick your arm into a cotton plant ready for harvest. Japanese business men were excited to “see where it all began.” And, Broadway called. The production of To Kill a Mockingbird needed assistance with a line about a cotton gin and southern speak.
These are just the few moments that come to mind easily. This is a busy place and I thought you would enjoy knowing some of what your generosity makes possible. We do so appreciate your help in not just telling the story of cotton but in preserving the fascinating history of “an empire that transformed American culture.” Consider becoming a member, renewing your membership, or making a donation today. There is much to be done and we are just getting started on an exciting 2019!
The Cotton Museum is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization which exists to preserve the history of cotton and educate the public on this first valuable global commodity still so important in our world today. We appreciate your support in this important endeavor.
This week The Memphis Flyer made this wonderful suggestion:
GIFT A MUSEUM: One way to give the gift of Memphis is to give the opportunity to experience our art, history, and culture – and there’s a lot to choose from. For history buffs, music nerds, or art aficionados, Memphis’ museums offer a veritable smorgasbord of sights and sounds. Another great thing about museums? They’re warm in the winter and air-conditioned in the summer, making them a great way to get out of the house – especially when family is visiting and the house feels two sizes too small. Here are a few to choose from: . . . Cotton Museum Long before music and food tourism, Grizzlies basketball, and FedEx, cotton was the cash crop of Memphis, which is why the Cotton Museum purports to “tell the story of how Memphis came to be.” It’s a cozy museum on the corner of Union and Front Downtown, and it’s the doorway to some of Memphis’ formative history. Individual memberships are $45, and family memberships start at $75 a year. – Jesse Davis
Thank you Jesse and the Flyer! Happy Holidays!
It’s November! Before long, the city sidewalks will be dressed in holiday style. Time to get those holiday parties planned. The old trading floor of the Memphis Cotton Exchange is perfect for creating a memorable and cozy setting for your holiday party. Call or email today to reserve your date. Mention this notice and receive 20% off our regular rental fees.
Our holidays are as follows:
Closed for Thanksgiving: Thursday and Friday, November 22nd & 23rd
Closed for Christmas: December 24th – December 26th
Closed for New Years: Beginning at 2PM on December 31st through January 1st
As always, our last admission is one hour before close.
On the evening of Friday, September 7, 2018 the Cotton Museum will proudly host an opening reception for Four Kinds of Y’all, a group photography exhibition featuring work from members of Due South Co-op. Weaving together the work of four artists who concentrate and live in the American South, pastoral landscapes from rural Mississippi mingle with the urban grit of Memphis, while delicate Florida pastels feel right at home beside taxidermied bobcats.The dialogue of the artists blends together like four old friends having a conversation at midnight.
The exhibition runs September 7 – November 30, 2018, and the opening reception is free and open to the public. Signed and editioned artist prints will be available for sale.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Ashleigh Coleman was born in the mountains of Virginia, reared in South Carolina, and for the last decade has lived in a rural Mississippi hamlet. Her graceful images showcase the complexities of the South by capturing the beauty and brutality of rural life.
With a degree in the History of Art from the University of South Carolina, Ashleigh’s art has been exhibited at shows across the United States, including her solo shows Runes at the Fischer Gallery in Jackson, Mississippi and Piece of Heart, at the University of Mississippi; as well as work shown at the Griffin Museum of Photography, Soho Photo Gallery and iloni Gallery in NYC, South × Southeast Gallery, and ArtSpace 86. Her photography has been published by Oxford American, Garden & Gun, and Okra. In 2017, TIME’s LightBox named her as one of its 51 Instagram Photographers to Follow in the U.S.
Born into a family of Alabama coal miners, David McCarty now calls Jackson his home. In the ether of past and present, his use of instant film situates the image between the uncontrollable and precise. An inherent contradiction, David’s polaroids immortalize the forgotten.
David’s Polaroid work exhibited as part of Self-Processing — Instant Photography at the Ogden Museum, PhotoNOLA’s The Perpetual Instant, and AINT-BAD’s Instant Gratification. In 2015, he co-curated Best Before: Instant Photography by Southern Artists in Jackson, MS. His Polaroid diptych “Biloxi Hotel” is part of the Ogden’s permanent collection.
Ephemeral in their nature, David’s instant images are right at home on the pages of his newsprint publications — Dial 546, Population 1,181, Found on The Roadside Dead, and Electric City.
Ellen Rodgers was born in the Mississippi Delta and grew up on the land her family has farmed for generations. Hasselblad in hand, Ellen builds a relationship with every person she meets — so that any portrait is more like a visit from a family member or an old friend.
Ellen attended the University of Mississippi and later earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in photography. In 2017, Fischer Galleries in Jackson, Mississippi, mounted a major exhibition of her meditations on her home, Images from the Delta. As part of its 50 States of Art project, Vice featured Ellen to represent Mississippi. Her photographs illustrated Studio Jackson: Creative Culture in the Mississippi Capital, from Acadia Publishing. Ellen’s silver gelatin work was featured at M2 Gallery in Little Rock, Arkansas.
The grandson of a cotton farmer and son of a literature teacher and undercover cop, Ryan Steed has spent years exploring and rediscovering the American South. He unearths contradictions and hidden meanings with both his images and titles.
A Memphis-based photographer and educator, Ryan completed an MFA in Photography at Memphis College of Art, where he now teaches darkroom and social documentary photography. His solo exhibition, Went Out for Cigarettes, ran this past spring at The Cotton Museum in Memphis, and he is part of Number:inc’s Art of the South running this summer at Crosstown Arts. His work is also included in the Griffin Museum of Photography Annual Members’ Exhibition. Ryan has recently shown work in Boston, Little Rock, Atlanta, Portland, Minneapolis, and Brooklyn. His art has been featured by AINT-BAD and Oxford American.
Ryan believes in these as absolute truths:
• The Mississippi River is the only river that matters.
• Boots should be worn, not polished.
• His grandmother was a lady.
• All songs are either love songs or murder ballads.
The Cotton Museum will be closed all day on Wednesday, July 4, 2018, for the observance of Independence Day. We encourage you to join the celebration by joining in the many activities being offered by our downtown neighbors:
*Memphis Redbirds 4th of July Celebration, AutoZone Park, July 4, 6:35 p.m., $9+, all ages/kid-friendly
Celebrate America’s pastime at the Redbirds v. on Wednesday, July 4. They’ll have fireworks and a jersey auction, and special cookout tickets that include an all-you-can-eat burgers and hot dogs buffet; those tickets are $20 for Field Box or $23 for Dugout seats.
*4th of July Celebration, Mud Island River Park, July 4, 6 p.m. – ’til, free to enter, all ages/kid-friendly
Celebrate 4th July on the Memphis riverfront. Bring the whole family for rides, games, a splash pad, music, and food and drink for sale on Mud Island, plus fireworks at 9:15 p.m. Canoe and kayak rentals will be available for $20/hour, or you can bring your own Kayak for a $10 launch fee.
* Peabody Rooftop Fireworks Viewing, July 4, 5 p.m. – 10 p.m., free, all ages
Watch the downtown Memphis 4th of July fireworks from the rooftop of the historic Peabody Hotel. They’ll have snacks and drinks available for purchase. This is a chill, family-friendly affair, so don’t get it confused with a Rooftop Party. No cover charge, but please leave chairs and coolers at home for this one.
The museum will reopen on Thursday, July 5th, at 10AM.
See you then!
The Cotton Museum Team
The Cotton Museum at the Memphis Cotton Exchange is pleased to be hosting the 6th Annual Cotton Boll Brunch on the old trading floor of the Memphis Cotton Exchange at 11:30AM on Friday, June 8, 2018. Therefore, the museum will be closed until 2PM on Friday, June 8th. Please visit us between 2PM-5PM on Friday. As always, our last admission will be one hour before close at 4PM.
The Cotton Museum at the Memphis Cotton Exchange will be closed all day on Tuesday, May 22, 2018, for a private event. We will resume our regular business hours beginning at 10A on Wednesday, May 23rd. Please visit us any other day this week. We are open from 10A to 5P on Monday. On Wednesday through Saturday we will be open from 10A to 5P and from 12 Noon to 5P on Sunday. Thank you for your understanding. We look forward to seeing you here.