The High Museum of Art Atlanta a place to contemplate and inspire

What was the first museum you have ever visited?  I wish I knew, but it was a long time ago, so no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t remember. But I recall where I saw one of the most fascinating in its naturalism sculptures – “The Veiled Rebekah” (1864) by Italian sculptor Giovanni Maria Benzoni. Three weeks ago in the evening, during one of the High-Frequency Fridays held on the first Friday of the month in the High Museum of Art Atlanta, GA. 

Somehow I missed seeing this masterpiece during my first visit to the museum. But now I know where it is, and the next time I will make sure to allocate some time to admire “The Veiled Rebekah” again.

“The Veiled Rebekah” by Giovanni Maria Benzoni

This statue represents a scene from a Hebrew Bible when Rebecca first meets her future husband, Issac. There are four copies of “The Veiled Rebekah,” and the original is in Salar Jung Museum in India. 

The first time this statue has to be viewed from far away (9-13 feet) to understand better the level of craftsmanship a sculptor applied to make a veil. When I saw it, I had an impression that the veil was real and almost moving around her face. It felt so realistic, almost invisible, that I wanted to stretch my hand and touch it to ensure my vision was not playing a trick on me. Standing near the statue, I was amazed even more because I could almost see the thin structure of the veil. Unbelievable! Superior level of work!  

Did you know that the word museum is of Greek origin, “mouseion” and means “Seat of the Muses”? It was designated as a place of contemplation and a philosophical institution.   

The High Museum of Art Atlanta. Who, what and when?

The High Museum of Art was established in 1905 as part of the Atlanta Arts Association. In 1926 Harriet “Hattie” Harwell Wilson High donated her family’s mansion on a Peachtree to house several exhibitions. Since then, some pieces of art were added to a permanent exhibition in what is now known as the High Museum of Art, which is named in her honor. 

Her portrait (Oil on Canvas) is displayed in Stent Family Wing, Robinson Atrium. 

The main entrance to The High Museum of Art and Robinson Atrium.

The High Museum is a division of Woodruff Arts center and is one of the most prominent museums in the Southeast United States. Its permanent collection has more than 18000 objects of art made by nineteenth- and twentieth-century American artists, folk and self-taught artists, African and European artists, modern and contemporary artists, and photographers

In 1983 a new building of the High Museum of Art was presented to the public, which soon became one of Atlanta’s landmarks. It was designed by famous abstract artist and architect Richard Meier, who won a Pritzker Prize for completing this building. That project was partly funded by former Coca-Cola president Robert W.Woodruff followed by $20 million raised by the museum.  

invisible man statue high museum of art
On the left (behind me)- World Events by Tony Cragg (1996) On the right – “The Invisible Man” (2018) statue by Glenn Kaino

In 2005 the museum went through another expansion. Italian architect Renzo Piano designed three new buildings that enhanced the overall view of the Woodruff Arts Center.  

The High Museum of Art Collections include:

  • Photography
  • Decorative arts and design 
  • African art
  • European art
  • American art
  • Modern and Contemporary Art 
  • Folk and Self-taught art

Located in downtown Atlanta, the High Museum of Art strives to represent the diversity of its community. In addition, it helps in communicating the values and stories of artists, thus adding to the comprehension of the importance of art

The museum offers various educational programs for kids, teens, and adults. Learn more by clicking this link 

A look inside The High Museum of Art
There are 3 levels in the museum.
Taago (Aluminum and Cooper wire, 2006) by artist El Anatsui
The museum’s African art collection includes a diversity of art items from ancient through contemporary times. Left photo – Egungun Masquerade Costume (18-20 century) Yoruba Artist, Oyo, Nigeria
Left image – “What’s on a pedestal today?”, (1990) – artist Lonnie Holley / Right photo – “The comfort and service my daddy brings to household” (1988) artist Richard Dial
Left photo – “Apples and Oranges” (1986) artist Judy Pfaff / Right photo – “You can’t lay down your memory chest of drawers” (designed 1991, fabricated 2008) designer and maker Tejo Remy
must do in atlanta visit high museum

Going to a city museum is a delicately personal experience. I go there to get inspired and become a step-more-forward open-minded. I often find the diversity of unexpected expressions and visual representations of something uniquely personal in museums.

Left photo – “Idolores”(2011) artist Charline von Heyl / Right photo – “The Command” (1988) artist Rocio Rodrigez

 My impression after visiting the High Museum of Art. 

Going to a city museum is a delicately personal experience. I go there to get inspired and become a step-more-forward open-minded. I often find the diversity of unexpected expressions and visual representations of something uniquely personal in museums. Expectations don’t work there, at least for me, because I want to be surprised, stop, ask questions, wonder, and then come back again. 

Right photo – “Untitled” Muqarnas (2012) Made of Mirrors, reverse-glass painting, and plaster on wood, artist Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian

I can’t say that I was a perfect museum goer always, but I learned so much since my first student-must-do-visit. I now know the importance of patience and silencing my creative voice once I enter the museum because it’s a space for other artists to speak and present. In some ways, art teaches us to be less selfish and more compassionate. And going to a museum – be attentive to others’ points of view and vision of the future. 

Right photo – “Niagara Falls” (1855) painter Régis François Gignoux
Left photo – selected image of exhibition “Oliver Jeffers: 15 years of picturing books (April-August 2022) Right photo – blue item “Nocturne radio” (1935) designer Walter Dorwin Teague / “Skyscraper” bookcase (1926) designer Paul T. Frankl

My first visit to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta was visually intense, and I promised to return. And since I bought a membership, I definitely will. In October there will be an exhibition of Rodin’s sculptures, will you be there?     

Right photo – “Marshmallow sofa” (1956) designer George Nelson
Left photo – Red Canna (1919) artist Georgia O’Keeffe / Right photo – Concretion (1936) artist George L.K.Morris
Left photo “A young woman of Trastevere” (1860) – sculptor Charles Cordier
Left photo – Autumn on the Seine (1873), Argenteuil,Claude Monet / Right photo – Port of London, Night (1894) Maximilien Luce

What must you know before visiting the High Museum of Art Atlanta, GA?

The museum is open from 10 AM-5 PM Tuesday to Saturday and Sunday 12 – 5 PM. 

Address: 1280 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30309

The general mission is 16 USD; children under 6 – Free. 

The High Museum of Art offers several membership plans:

Individual – $83

Dual/Family – $125 

Contributing – $182

Patron – $365

Donor Patron – $600 

Sustaining patron – $1000

Free parking (subject to availability until 5 PM) is included in every Membership plan. 

Don’t forget to subscribe to their newsletter for updates about new exhibitions and events. 

Left photo – “White lady of Avenel” (1864) sculptor Joseph Mosier
restaurant Woodruff art center atlanta
Twelve Eighty lounge cafe outside the main entrance to The High Museum of Art.
Right photo – “Cabinet” (1882) painter Will H.Low
“Madonna and child” (1510) – painter of the early Renaissance Giovanni Bellini

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