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Looking back at our history: The Museum in the 1980's

Georgia Museum of Art

As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of our museum, with an open house and birthday party scheduled for November 5, we’re looking back at our history. This time: the 1980s.

In 1982, thanks to the efforts of state representative Louise McBee, the Georgia General Assembly named us the official state art museum. McBee taught at UGA and served as its dean of women and acting vice president for academic affairs, so she knew the value of its art museum and UGA’s impact on the entire state.

In 1988, the museum celebrated its 40th birthday with the acquisition of a painting by Willem de Kooning (“Color for Blonde Woman”) that remains on display in the galleries today. That acquisition was one of many as the collection continued to grow. Art storage even encroached on office space. Directors Richard Schneiderman, Carol Winthrop and Jane Bledsoe all focused on fundraising to build a new museum, with one project getting as far as design renderings by famed architect Edward Larabee Barnes.

While the museum’s growth was slowed by space issues, there were other significant markers of success and development during the decade. In 1985 the exhibition “Georgia’s Legacy: History Charted Through the Arts” opened, celebrating UGA’s bicentennial and serving as the museum’s first major effort in decorative arts. The museum also began its Family Day programming in 1986. Free for all ages, the Saturday morning event still takes place once a month and has served tens of thousands of people over the decades. Visit georgiamuseum.org to find out about upcoming Family Days.