This weekend, while in Atlanta, I had the pleasure of visiting the High Museum of Art with my 12 year-old daughter Mikell. While I have been to Atlanta several times, my timing has never worked out to visit the museum. This time I planned a whole afternoon to tour the museum.
The museum is housed in a beautiful series of contemporary white buildings on Peach Street in mid-town Atlanta. The buildings (we would later learn during a docent tour) were built in phases, starting with the main building in the 80’s designed by Richard Meier and a new addition and lobby completed in the early 2000’s designed by Renzo Piano that more than doubled the museum’s size.
Mikell and I started exploring by visiting the 2nd floor while waiting for the docent tour to begin. We had time to poke around in the modern collection a bit while waiting. The museum houses (temporarily, I believe) works by Hale Woodruff, chronicler of African American and slave history. His work is bold and clearly influenced by his time spent in Europe studying cubism and his time in Mexico working with Diego Rivera (I hope I have those details right – I’m going from memory from what I read in the exhibit). Several of Woodruff’s murals from Talladega College have recently been through restoration and are on display at the museum.
We were the only participants in the docent tour, so we basically had a private tour of the museum’s collection, brief though it was. Our docent, Valerie, was friendly and informative. My first question was, “Why ‘High’ Museum of Art? What does the ‘High’ mean.” While I could imagine a lot of explanations, it turns out the museum is named after one of the area’s early prominent art patron families, the Highs.
Valerie started us in the museum’s African collection in the museum’s lower level and we moved our way up through the museum, which basically meant we were moving chronologically through the galleries.
I won’t recount everything we saw, but for me the highlights were works by Corot, Monet, Rodin (always a favorite), Hockney, Richter, Rothko, and Clause Oldenburg.
Mikell was amazing and happily endured almost four hours looking at the art. She certainly has more stamina than I would have at that age and is my only child who seems to have the genuine interest in art (of course it’s still early for the others).
Below are photos from the tour. If you are in Atlanta, be sure and carve out at least 2-3 hours to get “High” (sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
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