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Telfair Museums

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Attractions Details

📌 Address

207 W York St, Savannah, GA 31401, USA

Opening Hours

10:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

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expert
Colm
Local tour guide
"Be sure to visit Telfair Museums on a weekday afternoon when it's less crowded to enjoy a more serene art experience. Also, check out the 'Art Zealous' program, which offers occasional free admission days and special local events that are not widely advertised."

What is Telfair Museums?

Telfair Museums, located in the heart of Savannah, Georgia, isn't just a single destination but a collection of three culturally rich sites that include Telfair Academy, the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters, and the Jepson Center for the Arts. Each site offers a unique window into Savannah's vibrant history and contemporary art scene. The Telfair Academy and Owens-Thomas House are both National Historic Landmarks, brimming with elegance and architectural significance, while the Jepson Center stands as a beacon of modern design and offers a variety of contemporary exhibitions.

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As someone with intimate knowledge of Savannah's charms, I can attest to the fact that the Telfair Museums embody the diverse tapestry that is our city's identity. With collections that span over two centuries, it's like stepping into a time machine, with each museum narrating a distinct chapter of Savannah's - and America's - story. You’ll not only witness classical masterpieces but also engage with bold modern art that challenges the senses.

History of Telfair Museums

The history of the Telfair Museums is as captivating as the art it houses. It all began with the Telfair family, one of the most prominent families in Georgia's history. The original Telfair Academy building was designed by renowned British architect William Jay in the neoclassical Regency style, and it was once the family mansion before being bequeathed to the Georgia Historical Society to become a museum. It officially opened its doors to the public in 1886, making it the first art museum in the southeastern United States.

The Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters, completed in 1819, is an architectural gem designed by the same architect and boasts one of the earliest and finest examples of English Regency architecture in the country. But it's not just the architecture that's significant; the site is a poignant reminder of Savannah's history, as it includes one of the best-preserved urban slave quarters in the South. The Jepson Center, opened in 2006, is the most recent addition, showcasing a strikingly modern design by Moshe Safdie, contrasting with and complementing the historic buildings.

Why is Telfair Museums Important?

Telfair Museums play a crucial role in Savannah's cultural landscape by serving as stewards of history and a platform for contemporary expression. They're important not simply because they're home to thousands of artworks, but because they represent the evolving narrative of our community. Through its exhibitions and educational programs, Telfair Museums offer a dialogue between the past and present, providing visitors with a deeper understanding of regional and national history, as well as current artistic movements.

The museums are also vital for preserving the legacy of the Telfair family and their vision for a public art museum in Savannah. The continued care of two centuries-old buildings—and the stories they hold—ensures that vital parts of our city's heritage remain alive and accessible. The inclusion of the slave quarters at the Owens-Thomas House offers a sobering and necessary look at the history of slavery, challenging visitors to confront the harsh realities of our collective past.

Things to Do & See at Telfair Museums

At the Telfair Museums, there's an activity or exhibit for every taste. At the Telfair Academy, you can admire works that span from the 19th and 20th centuries with a strong representation of American and European art. The Owens-Thomas House provides a well-preserved example of historic Savannah life, with a tour that's not to be missed, offering insights into both the lives of the wealthy residents and the enslaved people who lived and worked there.

  • Examine the stunning architecture, marvel at the period rooms, and walk through the beautiful parterre garden.
  • Engage with contemporary art at the Jepson Center; their interactive children’s museum area, ArtZeum, is fantastic for families.
  • Participate in their extended learning opportunities, which include lectures, films, and free family days.
  • Explore rotating special exhibitions that bring renowned artwork from around the globe to Savannah.

The balance of preservation with innovation means there's always something new to discover at Telfair Museums. They also host a variety of special events throughout the year, such as the Telfair Art Fair, which features artists from across the country. Taking a quiet stroll through the galleries, you may find yourself lost in thought, transported by the beauty and the narrative each piece conveys — a journey only possible within these hallowed halls.

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Frequently asked questions

What are the Telfair Museums?

The Telfair Museums are a collection of three distinct cultural institutions in Savannah, Georgia, comprising the Telfair Academy, the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters, and the Jepson Center, all of which offer a rich array of art and historical exhibits.

What can I expect to see at the Telfair Academy?

At the Telfair Academy, visitors can expect to see a variety of American and European art dating from the 19th century, as well as decorative arts and period rooms showcasing the grandeur of the South's past.

What is unique about the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters?

The Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters provide a unique glimpse into the complex history of Savannah, featuring one of the best-preserved urban slave quarters in the South, along with a historic house museum that reflects the lifestyle of the wealthy and their slaves during the 19th century.

What exhibitions are available at the Jepson Center?

The Jepson Center presents a variety of contemporary art exhibitions, as well as educational programs and interactive galleries suitable for all ages. It provides a modern contrast to the historical offerings of the other Telfair Museums.

How can I purchase tickets for the Telfair Museums?

Tickets for the Telfair Museums can be purchased online through their official website or in-person at any of the museum locations. They offer various ticket options, including single-site admission and a pass that grants access to all three sites.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

207 W York St, Savannah, GA 31401, USA

Opening Hours

10:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

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