The Georgia Museum of Art is located in Athens, Georgia on the campus of the University of Georgia. The museum has the unique honor of being both the official state museum of Georgia, as well as an academic institution. The museum’s vast permanent collection is focused on 19th and 20th century American paintings, Asian and European works on paper, Italian Renaissance paintings, and Decorative Arts of the southern United States.
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Highlights of the collection include paintings by American greats such as Georgia O’Keefe, Winslow Homer, Andrew Wyeth, Thomas Eakins and Childe Hassam. Later 20th century works include paintings by Helen Frankenthaler and Alice Neel. Works on paper date back to the 15th century and include Japanese prints by Hiroshige and Hokusai, Italian master drawings. Twelve Italian Renaissance paintings were donated in 1961 by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. Many of the museum’s more recent acquisitions focus on the decorative arts, with a more specific focus of works made in Georgia or related to the American south. The permanent collection is housed throughout thirteen of the museum’s galleries, eight of which have been recently renovated with updated interpretative signage. Additional galleries round out the museum’s 79,000 square feet of exhibition space.
An outdoor sculpture garden, added in 2011, is dedicated to the rotating display of the works of female sculptors, and includes Beverly Pepper’s “Ascension” among the permanent works. Indoors, the sculpture collection includes works by Rosa Bonheur, Aguste Rodin and Henri Matisse.
A library on the museum’s third floor is also open to the public. In partnership with the University of Georgia, the library has catalogued over 12,000 volumes and adds between 1,000 and 1,500 each year. Archives from the museum’s collection may be found in the museum’s four Study Centers in the Humanities, which correspond to the museum’s areas of collection.
History: The museum was founded in 1945 with a gift from collector Alfred Heber Holbrook of 100 American paintings. Today, the collection numbers over 10,000 objects and is growing quickly in the areas of Asian Art and the decorative arts of the American South.
Alfred Holbrook was a lawyer practicing in New York City when he retired at the age of 70 and began in earnest to study art and art history. On a trip to Athens, he formed a fast friendship with the head of the University’s Art Department, Lamar Dodd. Holbrook became the museum’s first director, a position he held until past his 90th birthday.
Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art was established in the 1970’s as a support group for the museum. The group boasts over 1,200 members and holds annual fundraisers and exhibit opening celebrations as well as sponsoring exhibits and educational programs. The current facility on the University’s east campus was opened in 1996, with an expanded contemporary arts facility that opened in 2011. The expanded space allows for more ambitious programming and exhibitions, and better serves the museum’s mission of service, research and teaching.
Ongoing Programs and Education: Public Tours of the museum are offered daily by educated docents. Private tours may be scheduled for groups of 5 or more, and accommodations are available for the deaf. Private tours are also available for groups of students in Kindergarten through 12th grade.
Events at the museum include Tour at Two, specialized tours of current exhibits that take place each Wednesday at 2pm. Studio Workshops are ongoing and offer everything from one hour workshops to three part studio art courses. Morning Mindfulness offers a guided meditation in the galleries every Friday while Yoga in the Galleries takes place on Thursday evenings. Lectures and Symposia invite keynote speakers who are both academics and artists. Past speakers have included Marvin Trachtenberg, Nash Boney, Francis Naumann. A variety of films and film series take place throughout the year, including the annual Latin American Film Series. Family programming such as Toddler Tuesday and Family Days provide interactive programming that showcases works in the permanent collection.
Past and Future Exhibits: Recent exhibitions include Artful Instruments: Georgia Gunsmiths and their Craft. This exhibit, which runs through February of 2018, displays early Georgia firearms and accessories, dating back to the 1800’s. The exhibit explores the craft behind gunsmithing, which often included silversmithing, woodworking and casting. Images of Awakening will present Buddhist sculpture of Afghanistan and Pakistan through June of 2018. Works will include distinctive examples of early Buddhist art dating back to the 1st century.
90 Carlton Street Athens, Georgia 30602, Phone: 706-542-4662