The Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art is located in the historic Nicholas Ware house and the adjacent Walker-Mackenzie Studio in downtown Augusta. Founded as a nonprofit art school, the institute’s primary mission is to educate citizens within the central Savannah River region and to showcase the visual arts through a variety of exhibitions, special programs, and classes. Each year its galleries host an average of eight exhibitions, which display the work of artists ranging from the regional to the nationally recognized. The institute is supported through funding from the Georgia Council for the Arts and the Greater Augusta Arts Council.
Founded in 1937 by Olivia A. Herbert, a New Yorker who spent winters in Augusta, the institute began in the historic Ware house as the Augusta Art Club. The institute was later renamed in memory of Herbert’s daughter, Gertrude Herbert Dunn. The Ware house, constructed around 1818 by Nicholas Ware, the mayor of Augusta at the time, is also known as Ware’s Folly because of the high cost of its construction. Today the house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The institute includes studio and classroom spaces, darkrooms, galleries, and a student exhibition space. While there is no permanent collection, audiences may view rotating exhibitions throughout the year, including eight juried and nonjuried exhibitions of art from both regional and local artists. These exhibitions focus on works produced by artists in the Augusta area, as well as on works produced by students in the institute’s programs and workshops. In 2003 the institute’s twenty-third annual juried fine art competition and exhibition, A Sense of Place: Continuity and Change in the New South, was held in conjunction with the Annual Arts in the Heart of Augusta Festival and attracted renowned artists from across the Southeast. Nationally and regionally acclaimed artists who have exhibited at the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art include Bart Galloway (portraiture), Sherie Koenig (painting), Melinda Moore Lampkin (fiber arts), and Art Werger (prints), among others. Georgia writer Berry Fleming studied painting there in 1946. The institute has also borrowed historical exhibitions highlighting important aspects of American art.
The institute provides studio art classes and workshops, including drawing, painting, ceramics, weaving, collage, and photography, for both children and adults. Additionally the institute offers ArtVentures, an after-school arts program for local elementary students, as well as arts camps throughout the summer. Scholarships are available and membership discounts apply toward classes and workshops.
The institute administers and houses an Artist Slide Registry, a collection of images and information about regional artists. Viewing of the Artist Slide Registry is free and by appointment only.