The LaGrange Art Museum, located in downtown LaGrange, is situated adjacent to Lafayette Square in a renovated 1892 Victorian building, which originally served as the Troup County Jail. The museum’s primary mission is visual arts education, outreach, and community support to the citizens of west Georgia and east Alabama through a variety of exhibitions and programs. It hosts an average of fourteen exhibitions per year with a focus on regional artists and, to a lesser extent, national artists.
Founded in 1963 as an outgrowth of the Chattahoochee Valley Art Association, the museum was originally called the Chattahoochee Valley Art Association Gallery. The museum facility was completely renovated in 1978 and became the Chattahoochee Valley Art Museum in 1991. In 2006 the name changed once again to become the LaGrange Art Museum.
The museum includes four galleries, office and classroom space, a sculpture garden, and a gift shop. Free and nominal-fee art classes are offered to the general public at the museum as well as at other community facilities. Classes held at the museum are for adults as well as for children and include creative play, drawing, and structured studio classes in fine arts. As part of its outreach mission, the museum sponsors an annual arts festival, Affair on the Square, which began in 1965. The festival features a nationally juried fine arts and crafts market, with merit awards, and highlights painting, jewelry, glass, and photography.
Along with the Lamar Dodd Art Center of LaGrange College, the museum cosponsors the LaGrange National Biennial, a nationally juried art exhibition held at the museum and at the Dodd Art Center. The museum also provides support for the LaGrange Artists’ Guild, which holds its regularly scheduled meetings at the museum. Founded in 1991 as a separate nonprofit membership organization, the LaGrange Artists’ Guild coordinates a members’ show at the museum each fall.
The permanent collection focuses primarily on twentieth-century works, with an emphasis on American southern art. Artists whose work resides in the permanent collection include Pat San Soucie (watercolor) and Larry Welo (etchings). In 1996 the museum was the venue for the Georgia Watercolor Society National Show, an annual exhibition hosted yearly by various Georgia museums.