Scavenger Hunt with a ‘Twist’: Pocket Museum Hides Rubber Ducks in Downtown Hattiesburg

The Hattiesburg Pocket Museum hides in the heart of downtown Hattiesburg, nestled among the town’s local restaurants, bookstores and antique shops. Strings of lights hang above the alley behind the historic Saenger Theater, highlighting a row of umbrella-embellished picnic tables and a refurbished newspaper stand filled with 4-by-6-inch artwork.

The main attraction of the alley is the Hattiesburg Pocket Museum itself, a once-boarded-up window to one of the Saenger Theater’s many storerooms that now houses an intricate collection of novelties small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.

Milo, a 2-inch-tall mouse and the museum’s honorary curator, sits in the window among his collection of strange, pocket-sized baubles. These objects—the weird, the interesting, the small—are hidden all around the alley as well, with miniscule figurines perched on electrical boxes, door frames and even the grout in between the alley’s rustic brickwork. Tourists and locals alike roam with wonder around the alley, searching for the secrets hidden within the exhibits.

The Hattiesburg Convention Commission launched the Hattiesburg Pocket Museum in March 2020 as a way to stay active amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “All of our facilities were closed,” Rick Taylor, executive director of the HCC, says. “Our employees were calling in and asking, ‘What can we do?’”

The pirate-themed October exhibit of the Hattiesburg Pocket Museum, which Denver artist Shane Cooper created, features a treasure chest, “Milo coins” and a treasure map that Cooper made specifically for the Hattiesburg Pocket Museum. Other items like miniature bottles of rum are also featured, though one of the main attractions is a hyper-realistic prosthetic pirate hand preserved in a jar of salt that Homemade Haunt Props, a prop manufacturer based in Ohio, crafted. Photo by Gaven Wallace

Recognizing that alleys are often overlooked during city planning, the HCC decided to make use of the available real estate they provide, which led to the launch of the pocket museum in downtown Hattiesburg. “A lot of people don’t realize that alleys and streets make up 80% of the public land that cities own. It’s an underused area,” Taylor says.

“What we did was take

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