Moran Art Studio - Skeletons under the Floor (Gone)
After Hurricane Camille worked its magic on the coastal city of Biloxi in 1969, resident Joe Moran faced an extensive repair job to his ravaged art studio. Moran, born in 1916, worked as a boat builder for many years before turning artist - painting placid canvases of the local shrimp fleet. He's famous in this genre of the art world.
According to Biloxitourism.com, "Joe Moran's shrimp boat paintings grace the home and offices of art lovers around the country."
But we're fans of Moran's Art Studio for a different reason.
Back to that 1969 hurricane... In the course of repairs on the Porter Avenue building, 13 ancient skeletons were uncovered beneath the floor. Adjacent pots and other artifacts suggested these might be the remains of members of the Biloxi Indian tribe. Moran's brochure calls it "Site of Ancient Burials."
Joe decided to share his discovery with the public - but not by donating the skeletons to a museum. Instead, he remodeled to allow easy viewing of the archaeological find. Over 30 years later, visitors shopping for art can still examine the skeletons through a plexiglass window cut into the floor. It's in the very back of the studio, surrounded by paintings of smiling clowns and ponies.
In 1993 on our first visit, floodlights under the house ensured optimal viewing. On another visitor's 2002 stop, the lights were off, making appreciation of the scene more difficult.
It may also be a way to keep the remains repatriator spotlight off the studio. Really, no one knows how old these bones are. According to the brochure at Moran's, since there have been no carbon 14 readings, the skeletons "could date back as far as 2200 B.C. to 1500 A.D." Which could make them Phoenicians or Vikings.... Or maybe just 19th century victims of another hurricane?
May 2006: Moran's Art Studio was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. The skeletons survived, but the site is closed.