The Georgia Museum of Art, on the campus of the University of Georgia, in Athens, is both an academic museum and, since 1982, the official art museum of the state of Georgia. The permanent collection consists of American paintings, primarily 19th- and 20th-century; American, European and Asian works on paper; the Samuel H. Kress Study Collection of Italian Renaissance paintings; and growing collections of southern decorative arts and Asian art.
From the time it was opened to the public in 1948 in the basement of an old library on the university’s historic North Campus, the museum has grown consistently both in the size of its collection and in the size of its facilities. Today the museum occupies a contemporary building in the Performing and Visual Arts Complex on the university’s burgeoning east campus. There, 79,000 square feet house more than 8,000 objects in the museum’s permanent collection—a dramatic leap from the core of 100 paintings donated by the museum’s founder, Alfred Heber Holbrook.
Much of the museum’s collection of American paintings was donated by Holbrook in memory of his first wife, Eva Underhill Holbrook. Included in this collection are works by such luminaries as Frank Weston Benson, William Merritt Chase, Stuart Davis, Arthur Dove, Georgia O’Keeffe, Childe Hassam, Winslow Homer, Jacob Lawrence and Theodore Robinson. Over the years it has been impossible to separate the history of the museum from the story of Holbrook’s generosity.
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