The Telfair Museum of Art, founded in 1883, is the oldest public art museum in the South. An integral part of Savannah's social and historical landscape for over a century, it boasts three landmark museum buildings and a permanent collection containing approximately 4,000 objects from America and Europe, dating primarily from the 18th-21st centuries.
Highlights of the Telfair
Museum of Art:
The Telfair Academy features two 19th-century period rooms as well as fine examples of American Impressionism and Ashcan school realism.
A historic house museum, the Telfair's Owens-Thomas House is considered by architectural historians to be one of the finest examples of English Regency architecture in America.
The Jepson Center's ArtZeum, an interactive gallery designed especially for children and families, features a towering walk-through glass house, magnetic sculpture wall, public art obelisk, and numerous other hands-on exhibits.
The Telfair Academy and Jepson Center for the Arts feature a diverse selection of changing exhibitions each year.
Located in the heart of Savannah's vibrant historic district, the Telfair Museum of Art is comprised of three architecturally significant buildings: the Telfair Academy and Owens-Thomas House, two National Historic Landmark buildings, and the contemporary Jepson Center for the Arts. Each of the museum's three venues, an eloquent expression of its own time, houses a collection corresponding to the era in which it was built.
Designed in the Regency style by English architect William Jay, the Telfair Academy houses 19th and 20th century American and European art.
The Owens-Thomas House, also designed by William Jay, is a historic house museum featuring decorative art ranging in date from the late 18th to the early 19th century.
Rounding out the Telfair's trio of landmark buildings, the Jepson Center, designed by internationally acclaimed architect Moshe Safdie, is devoted to the art of today.
Designed by British architectural prodigy William Jay and constructed from 1818-1819, the Telfair Academy was originally a mansion built for Alexander Telfair, son of Revolutionary War patriot and Georgia governor Edward Telfair. In 1875, Alexander's sister Mary (heir to the family fortune and last to bear the Telfair name) bequeathed the house and its furnishings to the Georgia Historical Society to be opened as a museum. After significant renovation by German-born architect Detlef Lienau, whose adaptations included the addition of the Sculpture Gallery and the Rotunda, the building opened to the public in 1886 as the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences. The Academy contains two 19th-century period rooms and houses 19th- and 20th-century American and European art from the museum's permanent collection including paintings, works on paper, sculpture, and decorative arts. Highlights include fine examples of American Impressionism and Ashcan school realism, with major paintings by Childe Hassam, Frederick Frieseke, Gari Melchers, Robert Henri, George Bellows, and George Luks.
Built from 1816-1819 for cotton merchant Richard Richardson and his wife Francis Bolton, the sister-in-law of architect William Jay, the Owens-Thomas House is considered by architectural historians to be one of the finest examples of English Regency architecture in America. In addition to the historic house museum, the site includes an original carriage house. This outbuilding, which also houses one of the earliest intact urban slave quarters in the South, is adjacent to a courtyard which opens into a beautiful English-inspired parterre garden.
The interior of the Owens-Thomas House represents Jay's unique interpretation of the Regency style. Jay combined imported materials and indigenous construction techniques with the latest London technology, including an elaborate plumbing system with rain-fed cisterns, flushing water closets, sinks, bathtubs, and a shower. Owens family furnishings form the core of the decorative arts collection, which includes stunning American and European objects dating from 1750-1830.
Jepson Center for the Arts
Located on historic Telfair Square just steps from the Telfair Academy, the contemporary Jepson Center for the Arts links the Telfair's and Savannah's future with its past. Covered in glistening white Portuguese stone, the building has a soaring, light-filled atrium and dramatic, three-level grand staircase leading to its galleries and public spaces. The Jepson Center, which opened to the public in 2006, features over 7,500 square feet of gallery space for major traveling exhibitions of contemporary art and installations of works from the permanent collection. Educational programming takes place in the 220-seat auditorium, community gallery, education studios, and ArtZeum, a unique, 3,500-square foot interactive gallery for children and families.
A cornerstone of the museum's contemporary holdings is the Kirk Varnedoe Collection. Assembled in honor of the late Savannah native, scholar, and MoMA curator Kirk Varnedoe, the collection features works on paper by some of the most pivotal artists of the past fifty years, including Jasper Johns, Chuck Close, Roy Lichtenstein, Jeff Koons, Robert Schoenberg, Frank Stella, and Richard Avedon.
The museum's diverse contemporary collection also features important works by William Christenberry, Helen Levitt, Sam Gilliam, James Brooks, and many notable Georgia artists.
Immerse yourself in art and history! Get your eTickets and experience the oldest art museum in the South, the Telfair Museum of Art.
And don't forget to visit the Telfair Cafe© and Museum Stores!
Docent-guided tours are offered daily at the times listed below. Tours
meet at the front desk in the Academy lobby. Fee is included in
general admission price.
Daily Tour Schedule:
Mon, Wed, Thurs, Fri and Sat: 11am, 1pm and 2pm
Sun: 1pm and 2pm
Tours are given daily at 30-minute intervals and last 35-45
minutes. Last tour begins at 4:30pm.