The mission of the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art in Atlanta is to exhibit figurative or realistic art that is international, spiritual, or metaphysical. Oglethorpe is a small private university, and its art museum is the only one on such a campus in the Southeast that regularly shows nationally and internationally recognized exhibitions. The museum has a small but important permanent collection stressing its mission.
Founded as the Oglethorpe University Art Gallery in 1984, it became Oglethorpe University Museum of Art in 1993 after major renovations and expansion to more than 7,000 square feet of floor space. The museum’s two galleries, South and Skylight, are known for their intimacy and the carefully chosen music that accompanies each exhibition. With its hardwood floors, white columns, and earth-red walls, the building is often called a jewel itself.
With few exceptions, the museum’s unusual exhibitions have originated there. Some of the most historically important have been The Grand Tour: Landscape and Veduta Paintings; Venice and Rome in the Eighteenth Century; Four from Madrid: Contemporary Spanish Realism; The Many Faces of Buddha; Claude Monet at Giverny: Family Photographs, 1890-1926; Contemporary Black Artists from South Africa; The Spirit and the Flesh: Contemporary American Realists; Duane Hanson: A Master Returns; Hermann Hesse: Novelist, Poet, Painter; Dream of the Red Chamber: An Experience in Traditional Chinese Aesthetics: Paintings by An Ho and Furniture by Henry Lautz; and Nicholas Roerich, Messenger of Beauty: Paintings from the Bolling Collection. Many of the exhibitions were accompanied by catalogs.
The exhibition organized by the museum for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Mystical Arts of Tibet Featuring Personal Sacred Objects of the Dalai Lama, traveled across the United States, Mexico, and Canada for several years.