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The Musuem in the 1950's

As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of our museum, we’re looking back at our history. Following the museum’s opening in 1948 in the basement of the old UGA library, now the Administration Building, it quickly became an established part of the campus fabric, showcasing an ever-evolving display of new works and exhibitions of all kinds and later serving as a venue for meetings, visiting speakers and conferences.

Founder Alfred Heber Holbrook took on the task of making the new museum known to people far and wide, reaching out all across the state to share his love of art and promote the museum. Newspaper archives document his tour to various groups around the state, bringing along more than 20 paintings from the museum collection in the trunk of his car.

Early exhibitions at the museum included everything from local artists and works by UGA faculty to Brazilian and Indonesian artists to ceramics and works focused on the history of UGA and Athens. The decade was a significant time period for the museum’s established presence on campus. The North Campus location served as home until the mid-1990s and helped cement the museum as a part of the UGA campus. By all accounts, this time period helped the museum become a part of campus life and establish it as a renowned institution on campus. Holbrook’s tireless efforts made the museum known and respected by artists and art communities all across the United States, and when it celebrated an expanded space in January 1958, it was dedicated to Holbrook and Lamar Dodd.

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  • At the museum's side entrance, there’s a small work of art outside that you could easily miss, nestled as it is in a bed of wildflowers: Horace Farlowe’s “Tennessee Cut.”
  • Toddler Tuesday, which takes place once a month, started in 2016 and provides a warm welcome for future art lovers.
  • One of the other places in Athens to see art is The Athenaeum, a non-collecting contemporary art gallery that is part of the Lamar Dodd School of Art at UGA.