The High Museum of Art in Atlanta has announced plans for a major reinstallation of its collection galleries, set to debut in October 2018. This project marks the first comprehensive revision of the galleries since the High’s transformative expansion in 2005.
Since the Museum’s expansion in 2005, the High has added nearly 7,000 artworks to its collection, now totaling more than 16,000. Concurrent with the collection reinstallation, the museum will double the footprint and complete a total redesign of the Greene Family Learning Gallery in collaboration with Roto design firm.
“As the Atlanta community and the Southeast have grown and changed in the years since the Museum’s expansion, so has our collection. It is essential that our galleries recognize and reflect those changes and celebrate the diverse artistic achievements represented in our holdings, drawn from across the region and well beyond,” said Rand Suffolk, the Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr., director of the High. “We are thrilled to embark on this project, and we look forward to debuting presentations that will welcome audiences from all walks of life to form deep connections with the Museum.”
The reinstallation will feature iconic masterworks and present recent acquisitions across departments, including artworks never on view before at the High, such as Kara Walker’s monumental cut-paper installation “The Jubilant Martyrs of Obsolescence and Ruin” and paintings and sculptures from the 2017 Souls Grown Deep Foundation acquisition of folk and self-taught art.
The reinstallation will involve all seven of the High’s curatorial departments and highlight the collection’s growth and core strengths while creating dynamic and engaging experiences for visitors and improving accessibility throughout the High’s facilities. The Museum is working with architectural firm Selldorf Architects to develop all aspects of collection gallery design and space planning.
Special exhibition galleries will remain open for the duration of the reinstallation, and the Museum will continue to present public programs including First Fridays, Friday Jazz and Second Sundays. The new gallery presentations will debut in October 2018.
The new gallery organization will utilize a combination of interlinked chronological and thematic constructs with dedicated spaces to explore connections across genres and time periods or, alternately, emphasize distinctive strengths within the collections.
The interpretation of the collections will be guided by ideas and narratives that exemplify the Museum’s enduring dedication to diversity and inclusivity as well as its commitment to reflecting communities from Atlanta and beyond through its holdings.
In addition to featuring key works by artists of color and women artists, the galleries will incorporate important selections from the High’s unparalleled holdings of works related to the American South, from historical decorative arts and American paintings to civil rights photography.
“A museum collection is dynamic — always growing and evolving — so this opportunity has allowed us to thoughtfully revisit our existing presentations to reinstall the works in ways that resonate anew with our audiences,” said Kevin W. Tucker, the museum’s chief curator.
The Museum will make changes to interpretive elements, including writing new wall labels to resonate with diverse contemporary audiences. As the Museum observes and learns from visitor feedback, it will expand its interpretation program in future phases to adapt to the evolving needs of the public.
To further enhance the visitor experience, the High will add “pause” spaces throughout the collection galleries with seating to encourage reflection, conversation, and connection.
Additional gallery improvements, changes and collection highlights will include:
- Revised wall configurations in the Stent Family Wing to create new pathways and improve sight lines
- Light abatement and system upgrades throughout the facilities to better protect light-sensitive artworks
- A new special exhibition space on the Stent Family Wing Second Level, which will feature a rotating schedule of exhibitions organized by the High to highlight various aspects of the collection
- A new photo gallery location on the Wieland Pavilion’s Lower Level, which provides additional space to present exhibitions from the growing collection of more than 7,000 photographs
- A new “works on paper” gallery on the Wieland Pavilion’s Lower Level
- A “black box” space on the top floor of the Anne Cox Chambers Wing for the Museum to present works from its significant new media collection
Tucker added, “The reinstallation will highlight the strengths of our collections and connections between our curatorial departments and will address much-needed updates that ensure our visitors have more engaging, meaningful and memorable experiences in the galleries. From design to interpretation, these new presentations will embrace equity, diversity, and approachability throughout.”