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Museum Minute: Art Rosenbaum

UGA’s Special Collections Libraries serves not only as a library and museum but a canvas for one of Athens’ best-known muralists and folk artists, Art Rosenbaum, who died in September.

The Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, one of three special collections units housed within the building, invited Rosenbaum to tell the story of 100 years of Georgia's political history. Because of fire code requirements, he had to work around another challenge — a door in the middle of the wall. Rosenbaum later said: “gradually, that specific door became a metaphor for other doors: doors to the future, through integration, doors into the archives where past informs the present and future.”

After researching photographs, film footage, and other documents from the archival collections, Rosenbaum created a mural that includes four dozen figures from the past century, showcasing the state’s leadership in issues from agriculture and industry to civil rights. The 30-foot-wide mural, aptly named “Doors,” also contains a nod to the work of the Special Collections Libraries in preserving Georgia’s history and sharing it with students and visitors.

Rosenbaum was also a musician, author, and Grammy-winning folkloristVisitors to the Special Collections Building can listen to his recordings of traditional folk music in the Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection gallery. The building is open with free admission Monday, Wednesday and Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesday and Thursday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Rosenbaum’s legacy and his art live on through these works at the Special Collections Libraries and other installations throughout Athens and around the world.