What Is the Museum of Mobile?

J.E. Holloway

The Museum of Mobile is a museum which occupies the historic Old City Hall building in Mobile, Alabama. The Museum of Mobile preserves and displays items from Mobile's history, including Native American artifacts, Civil War cannon, artwork, antique furniture and more. The museum also hosts traveling exhibitions from other museums and historical societies.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Two permanent exhibitions at the Museum of Mobile chronicle the history and art of the city. "Old Ways, New Days" chronicles the history of the city, beginning with Native American settlements and continuing through to the present day. "Walls and Halls" displays historic artifacts and artwork from the city, including furniture, paintings and silverware. In addition to these permanent exhibits, the museum also contains the Discovery Room Interactive Gallery, which educates younger museum-goers about Mobile and its history.

The permanent galleries are supplemented by rotating temporary exhibitions. Some draw on items in the museum's collection which are not normally on display, while others showcase the work of local artists. Still others are traveling exhibitions. The Museum also houses collections of documents which are made available to historians and researchers working on the history of Mobile and Baldwin Counties.

The earliest collections in what would eventually become the Museum of Mobile originated with the Franklin Society, a 19th-century group which amassed a collection of historical and scientific books and artifacts. Although the Franklin Society disbanded in the 1880s, parts of its collections were transferred to the Mobile Public Library. A popular campaign in the early 20th century led to the creation of the Historic Mobile Preservation Society, which worked to create a museum for the city's history. Several interim displays and smaller museums preceded the official Museum of Mobile, which opened in a historic house in the city in 1976.

The Museum of Mobile relocated from this site to the Old City Hall building in 1999, with the new museum opening in 2001. The Old City Hall building, also known as the Southern Market, dates from 1858. It served the city both as the seat of local government and as a covered marketplace. Its role in the city's history and its impressive Italianate architecture make the Old City Hall building one of the most recognizable landmarks in Mobile.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck Mobile. Many of the city's buildings were damaged by flooding, including the Old City Hall. The museum closed for several months in order to repair the damage caused by the hurricane.

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Discussion Comments


@kentuckycat - I honestly feel like the history of Alabama is not emphasized enough as it really goes back a lot farther than just the founding of the state in the early 1800's.

I really hope that when I go to visit this museum that the exhibits there try to evoke a lot of the overall history that Mobile has experienced, as the area has experienced a lot of different history and important moments in time.

I am betting that there is a lot of emphasis on the racial component of the history of the city and if this is the case I would like to know more about the civil rights history of the city and could even go way back and look at the relations between the native americans and the travelers to the area.


I am really curious to see how far the documents that are available for study go considering that the state of Alabama was not one of the original thirteen colonies, yet there was so much history of the area before.

I think that it would be very interesting to look through these documents and see if there is anything from other European powers besides the British as the French as well as the Spanish laid claim to some of the area.

I would also like to see what tribes were able to call the area home as well as look at their relations between the white man as well as the traders that came into the area.

This area near the gulf allowed for so much interaction between different groups of people and would definitely allow one to take a look back into time at a piece of Alabama history that most people probably did not think existed.


@cardsfan27 - I completely agree. I grew up in Arkansas and learned that there were Conquistadors buried in the area that died during the same expedition you are talking about and I find that to be fascinating as people do not usually associate them with the Deep South, besides in Florida. I have to say that the city of Mobile also includes a lot of other history, especially racial and Civil War history.

As someone that studies history this city is a place that offers historians a view at several different studies of history and is a unique city as it really evolved over time to evoke all these different areas of study.

I really would like to visit this museum someday to see if they properly show all these areas of study in their exhibits as Mobile happens to be a place that there are few of in America that is able to claim so much in their past.


I have to say that I have never been to this museum and this is the first time I am hearing about it, but if they chose to include the entire history of Mobile and the surrounding area they may really surprise people.

A lot of people in Alabama do not realize that Spanish Conquistadors were the first white men to explore the area and I think Hernando de Soto led an expedition soon after the days of Columbus around the area as well as the rest of the South.

Besides this early American historical occurrence there is also a lot of Native American, Early American, Civil War, and racial history that occurred in the city of Mobile and a museum with proper exhibits could really span the generations and be able to educate people on the history and pre history of the city like they never knew before.

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