The story of the Georgia Museum of Art isn’t only found in the art; it can be found in artifacts. Those historical records, photographs, and other memorabilia are on display at the University of Georgia Special Collections Libraries, as part of a campus-wide celebration of the 75th anniversary of the museum.
This summer, the public is invited to trace the growth of the official state art museum by visiting the free exhibit, entitled It Goes to the People: 75 Years of Free Inspiration at the Georgia Museum of Art.
“I had a lot of fun digging through materials at Special Collections,” said Hillary Brown, director of communications at the museum, who put together the exhibition. “I tried to focus on some of the unexpected moments in the history of the museum, like the building that was planned and even designed for Florida Avenue downtown that was never built. I hope visitors learn something new and come away with an appreciation of the museum’s longevity.”
In the Libraries’ Rotunda, the exhibit begins with the earliest displays of art on the Athens campus of the first state-chartered institution of higher education in the United States. From the 19th-century gallery devoted to life-size portraits of the university’s founders and historic figures, the visual art mission expanded with the gift of a 100-piece art collection of New York attorney Alfred Heber Holbrook. The university retrofitted a space in the basement of the Peabody Library (now the Administration Building), opening the Georgia Museum of Art on Nov. 8, 1948.
“Over its 75 years, the Georgia Museum of Art has enriched the cultural and educational life of our University and state immeasurably,” said Toby Graham, university librarian and associate provost. “The UGA Libraries are proud to host this anniversary exhibition drawing on the University archives that help to document the Museum’s storied history.”
The exhibit marks the contributions of the leaders that established the renowned museum, including Holbrook, who served as the museum’s first director, “Miss Millie” Dearing, and Bill Paul, who served as the museum’s first curator and second director, fostering relationships with contemporary artists. The display also chronicles the design and construction of the Performing and Visual Arts Complex on UGA’s east campus, where the current location of the Georgia Museum of Art opened in 1996, with a later expansion in 2011.
To view the exhibit, which will remain on display until August 26, visit the Special Collections Building on Hull Street. The Special Collections Libraries are open to visitors for free from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, with extended evening hours until 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
For more information or to schedule a tour, visit libs.uga.edu/scl.
Visit georgiamuseum.org for more information on 75th anniversary events.