Open for less than a year, you might say the Gulfport Museum of History has a history of its own, but in the true spirit of the resiliency South Mississippi residents are known for, the museum is not only back up and running after a COVID shutdown, but the museum has added new chapters to its story through the lens of a veteran photographer who captured heart-wrenching historic moments on film.
Would you like to take a stroll down memory lane, branch out, and learn more about Gulfport’s deep-rooted history? The door is now open to do just that at the Old Railroad Depot building the city provided to house the Gulfport Museum of History.
The museum has a story of its own. COVID forced it to shut down just eight days after its grand opening in March of this year. Gulfport Museum History President Betty Shaw said, “We opened a few weeks ago. We were open here the Sunday of Cruisin’ the Coast, and we had a nice attendance.”
Museum leaders did not stay idle during the temporary shutdown. In fact, they added an 9/11 exhibit and a Hurricane Katrina display by local photographer Gary Modick.”I did eleven months of photographing after the storm. I have some pre-Katrina and post-Katrina photos. It is a little bit of serendipity.”
A Vietnam veteran, Modick is no stranger to the battlefield. Armed with a camera, he captured moments on film before and after Katrina. History would come around full circle fifteen years later when a Cruisin’ visitor rolled into the museum and made a startling realization. “He spotted this photo. The gentleman was in the Indiana National Guard at this time when they wrote this sign. It was like de ja vu,” said Modick.
Also, on display, photos taken of things remaining after South Mississippi 9/11 survivor Pam Stennis managed to escape from one of the burning World Trade Centers on that fateful day and an article by News 25’s own Toni Miles as she recounted the event on the five-year anniversary of 9/11. History truly has a way of coming around full circle.