Savannah, Georgia, United States
Public transit access Chatham Area Transit
Telfair Museums, in the historic district of Savannah, Georgia, was the first public art museum in the Southern United States. Founded through the bequest of Mary Telfair (1791–1875), a prominent local citizen, and operated by the Georgia Historical Society until 1920, the museum opened in 1886 in the Telfair family’s renovated Regency-style mansion, known as the Telfair Academy.
Telfair Academy in 2011
Today, the museum encompasses an extensive collection of over 4,500 American and European paintings, sculptures, and works on paper, housed in three buildings: the Telfair Academy (formerly the Telfair family home) and the Owens-Thomas House, which are both National Historic Landmarks designed by British architect William Jay in the early nineteenth century; and the contemporary Jepson Center for the Arts, designed by Moshe Safdie and completed in 2006.
Each of the museum’s three buildings represents an innovative expression of its time, and houses a collection corresponding to the era in which it was built. The Telfair Academy contains two nineteenth-century period rooms, and it houses nineteenth- and twentieth-century American and European art from the museum’s permanent collection including paintings, works on paper, sculpture, and decorative arts.
The Owens-Thomas House boasts a decorative arts collection composed primarily of Owens family furnishings, along with American and European objects dating from 1750-1830. Additionally the site includes intact urban slave quarters and a lovely parterre garden. The Jepson Center for the Arts features contemporary art galleries of American Southern art, African American art, photography, and works-on-paper; two galleries for large traveling exhibitions; a community gallery; a children's gallery; and two outdoor sculpture terraces.
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