The permanent exhibit at the museum includes a mixture of antique and contemporary artifacts. Some artifacts in the permanent collection are stored in the museum’s office.
During the Civil War, a few Confederate troops briefly stayed at the Montgomery home, The Cedars. The daughter and her friends entertained the young soldiers by singing and playing piano. Before moving to Columbus, the soldiers performed a song they had written for the young ladies called “Starkville Girls.” The girls then wrote a song for the young men.
Bobby Horton, an Alabama musician who’s an authority on Civil War music, visited the museum on June 18, 2012, between MSU performances. He played the 1840 square piano that the Montgomery family donated to the museum. Copies of the two songs and a recording of Horton singing “Starkville Girls” are at the museum’s piano exhibit. A folder recounting the story in more detail is also on the piano.
- Native American and early county history
- 1980 Miss America Cheryl Prewitt pageant items
- 2002 Miss USA Shauntay Hinton items
- Johnny Cash in Starkville mementos
- Sports: Cool Papa Bell, T-ball, Travis Outlaw, Bailey Howell, Elon Walker
- Civil War artifacts
- Military memorabilia
- Local aviation history
- Evans Shine Parlor mementos
- Needmore Community mementos
- Yesteryear Main Street photos
- Retro doctor’s office
- Coca Cola’s local history
- Interactive Children’s Corner
- Early home life
- Agriculture: dairy farms and forestry
- Vintage clothing
- Church and school keepsakes
- Industries’ evolution
- Miniature railroad layout
A new exhibit was added to the permanent collection in 2012. Starkville native Ruby Nash Davis gave her wedding dress and photographs to the museum. Her late husband, “Punchy,” was mayor of Starkville for a time. Both of Mrs. Davis’ daughters wore her wedding dress in their weddings. The three couples were married in the First United Methodist Church of Starkville. The photographs in the exhibit are of each bridal couple, with the church photo as background.
In 2013, a sports exhibit opened that features memorabilia of Elon Walker, who played in the Negro Baseball Minor League for the Memphis Red Sox in the late 1950s. Walker, a former resident of the Needmore Community in Starkville, was a pitcher and teammate of Charley Pride, the renowned black country singer. A copy of a letter from Pride to Walker is in the exhibit. Pictured are Elon Walker’s half-brother, Cleveland Carlisle, Sr.; his wife, Terry; and son Cleveland, Jr.
A major new sports exhibit is in progress. Funded by the Greater Starkville Development Partnership, it will feature “lockers” of memorabilia from three Oktibbeha County former Hall of Fame professional athletes: Cool Papa Bell (Negro League baseball), Bailey Howell (basketball), and Jerry Rice (football).
*All artifacts on permanent exhibit in the museum are from Oktibbeha County.
In 2010, the museum began hosting rotating exhibits to spur new interest and to draw previous visitors back to the museum. These temporary exhibits are pulled from the museum’s archived collections, or they are on loan from individuals within the community. They typically are displayed for a few weeks or a few months.
These rotating exhibits have been on display at the museum:
- “Dolls Delight” – This display featured dolls representing many cultures, including Native American, and vintage dolls on loan from Carole Gospodnetich and Patsy Stuart. Visitors were encouraged to bring their own dolls to the opening of the exhibit. (spring 2010)
- World War II Memorabilia – Throughout the year, several displays were loaned to the museum in conjunction with the museum’s World War II Veterans Celebration. (2010)
- “Angels at the Museum” – Angel dolls were on loan from Marilyn Epperson, and a variety of angel representations were on display from Wanda Thorne’s and others’ collections. (December 2010)
- Antique Oil Lamps – Jerry Drott provided this large, varied collection. (spring 2011)
- “What is it?” Series – This small, but popular series encourages visitors to guess the purpose of a selected item provided by Jerry Drott, museum trustee (ongoing).
- International Mementos – Members of the World Neighbors Association at Mississippi State University organized this collection. An extensive array of mementos from many countries was displayed, with all items tagged with identifying information. The opening of the exhibit included a Persian calligraphy demonstration, sitar music, exotic costumes, and refreshments. (April 2011)
- Penny Postcard Greeting Cards – The exhibit included a sampling of Bill Parrish’s extensive collection of vintage postcard greeting cards for various holidays (November 2011)
- “Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa Around the World” — World Neighbors Association provided international items to celebrate the season (December 2011)
- Vintage Valentines — Collections were displayed for the entire month. (February 2012)
- USS Mississippi – Jerry Drott provided information about this new ship, the fifth US Navy vessel to be named the USS Mississippi. The ship was commissioned June 2, 2012 in Pascagoula. (May-June 2012)
- Teddy Bears – Wanda Thorne’s collection of stuffed bears in assorted sizes, textures, and colors was displayed in the museum’s new exhibit cases (November-December 2012)
- Mardi Gras — contemporary and vintage items were on loan from Wanda Thorne, Betsy Longest, and Joan Wilson (January-February 2013)
- Floral Frogs – Hellen Polk, Jacque Tisdale, Margaret Ann Chandler, and Joan Wilson loaned these metal, glass, and ceramic “frogs” from their collections. Frogs are used to hold together flower arrangements. (March-April 2013)
- Fantasy Fascinators (hats) – Human Sciences 1523 students’ entries in the 2013 Visual Design & Dress Design competition were displayed in the museum’s Home Center. Dr. Phyllis Miller, professor of Apparel, Textiles & Merchandising, organized the display. (April and May 2013)