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.
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.