High Museum of Art
The High was established in 1905 as the Atlanta Art Association. In 1926 Harriet Harwell Wilson High donated her family's Peachtree Street residence to be used as a museum, and the association was renamed in her honor. By 1955 the collection had outgrown the High mansion and was moved to a new brick building adjacent to the house. Despite Atlanta's general ambivalence toward the fine arts at midcentury, the High grew steadily, albeit slowly, thanks to several generous bequests and gifts. In 1962 tragedy drew attention to Atlanta's cultural life—during a museum-sponsored tour, 106 Georgia arts patrons died in the Orly air crash near Paris, France. The Atlanta Arts Alliance was formed in honor of the victims, and in 1968 the Atlanta Memorial Arts Center opened.
The building, which opened in 1983, tripled the space of the High's previous home and quickly garnered praise; the building's gracefully curved façade on Peachtree Street became an Atlanta landmark. Its four-story atrium, surrounded by a spiraling ramp and capped by skylights, was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's modernist design of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City. Key features of Meier's design include such strong architectural elements as the soaring atrium; an emphasis on modernist planes, curves, and lines; and galleries within galleries. The sculptural quality of the High's interior is enhanced by the play of light and shadow reenacted daily in the atrium. In 1984 the American Institute of Architects (AIA) gave it the Honor Award, architecture's highest recognition for excellence in design. In 1991 the AIA cited the museum building as "one of the ten best works of American architecture of the 1980s," and in 2005 it was honored in a U.S. Postal Service stamp series, "Masterworks of Modern Architecture."
In 1992 the museum received a Governor's Award in the Humanities.
Like other fine-art institutions, the High is continually refining its permanent collection. This dynamic institution has forged a twenty-first-century model for museum operations that includes collaborations with international institutions, ongoing relationships with major collectors, and high-profile exhibitions. The museum's strategies for collection-building and exhibition development include focusing on more-affordable collecting fields, such as photography, folk and self-taught art, and contemporary art, and devoting substantial attention to exhibitions of modern and contemporary art and to shows organized from important collections.
Irving L. Finkelstein, Prints of the High Museum: Image and Process: An Exhibition of Works in the Ralph K. Uhry Collection and Other Print Holdings of the High Museum of Art, exhibition catalog (Atlanta: High Museum of Art, 1978).
High Museum of Art: Selected Works from the Collection (Atlanta: High Museum of Art, 2005).
Judy L. Larson, American Paintings at the High Museum of Art (New York: Hudson Hills Press, with the High Museum of Art, 1994).
Kelly Morris, Highlights from the Collection: Selected Paintings, Sculpture, Photographs, and Decorative Art (Atlanta: High Museum of Art, 1994).
Molly Thompson, Roswell
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.