In August, Morris Strickland, a member of the board of directors at the Walter Anderson Museum of Art in downtown Ocean Springs, went public with a problem at the museum.
A part of the heating, venting and air conditioning system known as the chiller, which controls temperature and humidity, was broken. A temporary unit had been installed, but it was critical to replace the chiller with a new unit to protect the millions of dollars of art work at the museum.
Mississippi Power Marketing Director David Buckner, who had just joined the museum’s board of directors, offered to assist Strickland.
“Mississippi Power takes our responsibilities to our customers and the communities we serve seriously,” Buckner said. “As the energy experts, it’s our role to provide customer service and support on a project like this.”
After assessing the museum’s needs and reviewing the existing air system’s equipment, Industrial Marketing Specialist Steve Armour contacted four HVAC vendors to recommend a solution and a price.
“We were looking to solve the immediate problem of replacing the equipment,” Armour said. “But we were also interested in helping the museum reduce operating costs and improve operation of the new unit. There have been advancements in technology since the original chiller was installed that can be applied to the design that will help this customer save money.”
Now that a plan to replace the chiller was in place, WAMA needed to come up with the funds to pay for the new equipment. That’s when Dr. Larry Shoemaker, the Executive Director of the WAMA board, stepped in.
At an event in Biloxi, Shoemaker explained the situation to Gov. Phil Bryant, who immediately offered his assistance. Working with the Mississippi Development Authority’s Archives division, Bryant presented WAMA with a check for $141,000 from Community Development Block Grant funding for the new chiller.
“This is a landmark that we are so very proud of in Mississippi, that people all over the world come to, and we could lose it over an air conditioning system that had been destroyed by Katrina,” Bryant said at the check presentation ceremony. “So we pulled together with MDA archives and made sure we got it working again. The concern was real and so we were very fortunate to be able to move in and help alleviate the problem.”
The new equipment, featuring a properly sized water tank, was designed to meet the most stringent specifications for museum use. WAMA is home to more than $50 million in art and murals on loan from the Anderson family.
“Mississippi Power was so helpful on this project,” Rosemary Roosa, Executive Director at WAMA, said. “They were instrumental in making sure we got the right system at the best price and in the most expedient manner possible. We really enjoyed working with them.”
Construction began September 1 and the new chiller was commissioned in mid-December.
“This is a great example of how Mississippi Power provides outstanding customer service,” Mississippi Power Jackson County District Manager Brad Bradford said. “The Walter Anderson Museum is a vital part of the downtown Ocean Springs economy that attracts thousands of visitors every year. David and his team helped save this irreplaceable art collection.”