Leesha Faulkner


If you’ve been attuned to several Facebook groups and pages or Twitter or any of the popular social media outlets, you’ve noticed updates about the renovation to the Oren Dunn City Museum. Thanks to the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau, Turner Construction, and the gifted design of Carolyn Perkins of Socius Design, the museum looks better than ever.

We remain weeks from opening our doors to visitors. The current project rests in a timeline that tells the Tupelo Story in a comprehensive way. Inside our smaller rooms we will expand on the city’s development through the decades, beginning with the railroads. The model train will return, thanks to Boyd Yarbrough, who has a few surprises tucked away for that exhibit. Boyd has donated his time and some funds to making this key event in Tupelo’s history stand out. Children and adults love to operate the trains, and they always run on time.

No great undertaking occurs without assistance from others, like Boyd and our colleagues throughout the city who have donated hours helping move exhibits or clean up areas. Others, like Carla Falkner and Juanita Floyd, have provided invaluable lessons in history and working to make our dollars stretch or see more dollars arrive.

Sihya and I would like to extend the opportunity to become a part of the growing Tupelo Story by inviting those who live in or with ties to the All-America City to help us move beyond the basics. The Oren Dunn City Museum has needs above its collections. For example, we want to set up a small room as an interview room where people can come in and share their stories of Tupelo. The room needs comfortable chairs, a couple of side tables and lamps, along with a small rug. We would like to upgrade our video and audio equipment to record these oral histories, so those interested in the stories can view them, read transcripts or listen to them.

We wish to tell a more complete story of the tornado of 1936. Our exhibit requires a kiosk to show documentary films featuring people who lived through this event, so our museum guests may view the films at their leisure, see the names and obituaries of those identified as dying in or as a result of the storm, among other things.

Additionally, we are setting up a TVA/New Deal area that also requires a kiosk, so individuals may see the building of the dams, the homestead houses histories and review documentaries of all the projects, including one of the visit of FDR and Eleanor to Tupelo in 1934.

Our new design boards also cost money. Yes, the city of Tupelo continues to be very generous with the Oren Dunn City Museum but moving into a digital age with music and photographs and better ways of explaining our history through visuals means dollars beyond depending on the City Council.

We would discuss with you or your business a way to recognize your donation – generally with an acknowledgment in the front of the building or by the room you have help to sponsor. Because, with your kindness, you become a part of our history – a part of the Tupelo Spirit.

Or, if you choose, come meet with us and let us show you what we need and how we intend to use your donation. Nothing would make us happier. If you decide to send a donation, please make it out to Oren Dunn City Museum Association, PO Box 3608, Tupelo, MS 38803.

Thanks to everyone for their kind words and support. We can’t wait to show you our new museum space.

LEESHA FAULKNER is curator of the Oren Dunn City Museum. You may reach her at leesha.faulkner@tupeloms.gov.

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