Art runs deep in Savannah’s blood. You could argue that the city itself is a work of art, with sprawling oak trees, cobblestone and awe-inspiring architecture lining nearly every street. As one of the south’s oldest city’s, Savannah’s history is steeped in a variety of cultures, each of which has contributed to Savannah’s notable art scene. We’ve put together some of the best Savannah museums and galleries to check out during your stay.
The Telfair Academy has served as the center of Savannah’s rich art culture for much of the city’s history. Built in 1818, the academy was originally a mansion for the Telfair family before being converted into a museum in 1886. It is the oldest public art museum in the south, and one of the ten oldest public art museums in the United States.
Today, Telfair Museums consists of three museums: the Telfair Academy, Owens-Thomas House and the Jepson Center. Each offers its own unique experience and holds a collection of art which mirrors the era in which it was built.
At the Telfair Academy, you’ll find a collection of nineteenth- and twentieth-century art housed in the original Telfair family mansion, which was named a National Historic Landmark in 1975.
The Owens-Thomas house is one the best examples of English Regency architecture in the country. Inside, you’ll find an arts and decoration collection dating from 1750 to 1830, and you’ll learn about the rich history of the home which is also recognized as a National Historic Landmark.
The Jepson Center itself is a notable modern architectural landmark, designed by internationally renowned architect Moshe Safdie. Here, you’ll find works by contemporary artists from across the country and around the globe, as well as the famous Bird Girl statue made famous on the cover of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. With so much art to explore, it can be difficult to decide which Telfair Museum to visit. Fortunately, a ticket to any one museum provides access to all three for a whole week, so you can take the time to experience each.
SCAD Museum of Art
As one of the top design schools in the country, the Savannah College of Art and Design is home to a rich teaching museum consisting of contemporary art from internationally acclaimed professional artists. Established to enhance the education of SCAD students, the museum also enriches the Savannah community with access to renowned works and more than 20 rotating exhibitions each year.
Like many buildings in Savannah, the museum itself has a unique history of its own. Originally built in 1853, this building is the oldest standing antebellum railroad station in the country, and it was converted into the museum in 2011 by architect and dean of the SCAD School of Building Arts, Christian Sottile.
City Market Art Center
Once you’ve experienced the works of art in Savannah’s museums, it’s time to experience some of the art that’s being created in the city every day. Home to some of Savannah’s most talented artists, City Market houses several galleries, as well as the City Market Art Center, where you can witness some of these talented artists at work.
Here, you’ll find art of all forms, from photography to paintings, sculpture and local indigenous Gullah and Geechee works. Whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in the culture of Savannah, or pick up a piece to add to your personal collection, the City Market Art Center is worth a visit on your next trip to Savannah.
The Beach Institute African-American Cultural Center
You can’t visit Savannah without quickly understanding the deep and long African-American history in the city. At the Beach Institute African-American Cultural Center, you can explore this history by experiencing some of the best works by African-American artists in the city.
Originally built in 1867, the Beach Institute was established as a school for newly freed slaves, making it the first school in Savannah specifically intended for the education of African Americans. Today, it serves as an educational and cultural center, with a rich variety of travelling African-American exhibitions, as well as an expansive collection of wood sculptures by national-known folk artist, Ulysses Davis.
The Beach Institute African-American Cultural Center Website »
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