Exhibitions2018 Reinstallation | Permanent Collection
Past Exhibition

2018 Reinstallation | Permanent Collection

October 12, 2018 – October 12, 2019

Refreshed. Reimagined. Revealed.

Visit our reinstalled collection galleries for a new experience at the High Museum of Art. With old favorites, new acquisitions, and previously stored artworks now on view, the redesigned collections embrace growth and diversity while creating dynamic and engaging experiences for our visitors.

“We are thrilled to complete this project and debut the reimagined galleries. We cannot wait for our audiences to experience the High in a whole new way. As the Atlanta community and the Southeast have grown and changed in the years since the Museum’s expansion, so has our collection. Our new galleries recognize and reflect those changes and celebrate the diverse artistic achievements represented in our holdings, drawn from across the region and well beyond.” –Rand Suffolk, Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr. Director, High Museum of Art

The reinstallation covers all seven of the High’s curatorial departments and highlights the collection’s growth since 2005 and key strengths while enhancing the visitor experience and improving accessibility throughout the High’s facilities. The Museum worked with internationally renowned architectural firm Selldorf Architects to complete all aspects of collection gallery design and renovation. Concurrent with the collection reinstallation, the Museum is doubling the footprint and completing a total redesign of the Greene Family Learning Gallery in collaboration with Roto design firm.


What to Expect

New Collection Galleries

Since the Museum’s expansion opened in 2005, the High has added more than 6,500 artworks to its collection, which now totals more than 17,000 objects. In an effort to feature the continual expansion of holdings across the Museum’s curatorial departments, we have not only allocated new galleries but also significantly reconfigured all curatorial departments and gallery spaces. Our renovated and redesigned galleries create new adjacencies and meaningful cross-departmental juxtapositions.

The reinstallation features iconic masterworks and presents 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.

  • Refreshed. Over the course of the last thirteen years, the High has acquired thousands of new artworks. Pulling from both recent acquisitions and prior holdings, the newly reinstalled galleries will showcase our strengths across all seven collecting areas.
  • Reimagined. Working with new artworks and different spaces, curators were invited to take a fresh approach to how their collections relate to their gallery spaces. They also worked together to create connections across collecting areas, enriching the overall experience of the High’s permanent collection.
  • Diversified. The presentation of the collection, guided by the Museum’s dedication to diversity and inclusivity, showcases artworks relevant to communities from Atlanta and beyond. In addition to featuring key holdings by artists of color and women artists, the galleries incorporate selections from the High’s unparalleled holdings of works related to the southeastern United States, from historical decorative arts and folk and self-taught art to civil rights photography.
  • Optimized. Architects worked with the High’s staff to improve wayfinding, flow, and accessibility. To further enhance the visitor experience, the new galleries also provide more spots with seating to rest and reflect.
  • Protected for Posterity. As stewards of artworks for the community, Museum staff members take their jobs seriously. The reinstallation allowed Museum staff to address conservation needs, including restoring artworks, mitigating light levels, performing maintenance and repairs, and improving art storage and rotation. This work ensures the preservation of our collection for future generations.


Colorful glass panels hang dynamically in the High's Family Learning Gallery.

New Greene Family Learning Gallery

In October 1968, the High introduced its first dedicated space for families to learn, play and explore. Since then, our family spaces have incited the curiosity of millions of young visitors. To mark the 50th anniversary of the High’s commitment to family spaces, we are debuting a total redesign of the Greene Family Learning Gallery with all-new interactive environments created in collaboration with Roto design firm.

Located adjacent to the Robinson Atrium in the Stent Family Wing, the Greene Family Learning Gallery has expanded to include a 2,000-square-foot space across the hall from its previous footprint.

  • Expanded and Enhanced. The totally redesigned Greene Family Learning Gallery features two distinct spaces designed based on a set of guiding goals informed by years of visitor observation, community expert input and research. The first space, “CREATE,” is a bright and open studio devoted to developing young visitors’ art-making abilities and centered on the creative process. The newly created second space, “EXPERIENCE,” is a deeply immersive gallery that enables visitors to explore what art means, how it feels and where it can take us.
  • Fun and Engaging. Each space is a welcoming, safe and fun environment that is child-centered and child-directed with age-appropriate activities for infants through age 8. Each gallery space features a “quiet room” with activities designed for reflection as well as an area specifically for toddlers.
  • High Tech and Hands On. The open-ended, intuitive, multi-sensory elements of the spaces were designed to be inclusive and combine cutting-edge technology with hands-on activities.



Highlights from the Collection Galleries

The Jubilant Martyrs of Obsolescence and Ruin

Kara Walker
American, born 1969
The Jubilant Martyrs of Obsolescence and Ruin, 2015
Cut paper on wall
Purchase with funds from wish Foundation, Revlon, the George Lucas Family Foundation, the Ford Motor Company, Ms. Louise S. Sams and Mr. Jerome Grilhot, Iris and Michael Smith, Robbie and D’Rita Robinson, Jiong Yang and Baxter Jones, Sarah Eby-Ebersole and Daniel Ebersole, Sara and Paul N. Steinfeld, Elizabeth and Chris Willett, Brooke and Roderick Edmond, Peggy Foreman, Friends of African American Art, and Friends of Modern and Contemporary Art, 2016.138.Working across media, Kara Walker explores controversial themes of race, gender, sexuality, and violence. She is best known for her use of the silhouette, with which she has created room-sized installations, sculptures, and smaller works on paper.Born in Stockton, California, Walker moved with her family to Georgia at the age of 13 and lived most of her teen years in Stone Mountain. In the shadow of the Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial Carving, a Civil War monument and the site of the 1915 Ku Klux Klan revival, Walker experienced the South’s blunt resistance to integration and the racist legacy of Jim Crow segregation laws. For Walker, such indignities emphasized the reality that life in this country is fundamentally different for white people and black people.With biting satire, The Jubilant Martyrs of Obsolescence and Ruin combines racial stereotypes with imagery of the antebellum South to construct a narrative frieze depicting contributions of the domestic slave trade to the Civil War and the ensuing racial terrorism of the Jim Crow South. By reframing the iconic tableau at Stone Mountain and exposing the history of racial oppression, subjugation, and exclusion it commemorates, Walker constructed a contemporary parable of the intrinsic bigotry and racialized hatred that still exist throughout the United States.

Kw87 The Jubilant Martyrs Of Obsolescence And Ruin 2015 Full 1480x364.jpg


William Edmondson
American, 1874–1951
Nurse, late 1930s
Purchase with Fay and Barrett Howell Fund, 1983.61William Edmondson began working with limestone as a tombstone carver, but in the early 1930s, visions from God inspired him to begin creating different forms. Women figured prominently in the menagerie of sculpture that filled Edmondson’s yard. In addition to portraying legendary ladies such as Eleanor Roosevelt and the Bible’s Eve, he carved tributes to the nurses he had worked with at a local hospital.Nurse demonstrates Edmondson’s elegant economy of form. He rendered the body’s basic shapes as geometric volumes, concentrating on details in the facial features and carefully coiffed hair. The figure’s hands, positioned gracefully in her lap, lend Nurse a delicacy that belies its solidity.Edmondson became the first African American artist to have a solo show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art when it exhibited twelve of his works in 1937.

Db Photod5770u811577031983.61wedmondsonview1 O2 1062x1480.jpg


Nandipha Mntambo
South African, born 1982
Minotaurus, 2015
Cast bronze on sandstone base
Purchase through funds provided by patrons of the Seventh Annual Collectors Evening, 2017, 2017.180Nandipha Mntambo cast her own body in bronze to create a larger-than-life self-portrait inspired by the Greeek Minotaur, a creature with the head of a bull and body of a man. Both this contemporary work and the ancient terra-cotta torso of a female figure wrapped in snakes on view nearby imbue the female form with mythical powers.

Minotaurus 1145x1480.jpg

Love Is The Message, The Message Is Death

Arthur Jafa
American, born 1960
Love Is The Message, The Message Is Death, 2016
Single-channel video
Variable dimensions, 7 1/2 minutes
Gift of the Alex Katz Foundation, 2017.173In Love Is The Message, The Message Is Death, Arthur Jafa combines original footage with clips from documentary film, news media, social media, and Hollywood to illustrate a century of tumultuous black experience in the United States, from Jim Crow to Ferguson. This montage alternates between scenes of triumph and jubilation and those of conflict, violence, and upheaval. The music is Kanye West’ “Ultralight Beam,” sung by Chicago-born artist Chance the Rapper and serves as both a lament and a meditation on spiritual and social awakening. Jafa immerses the audience in the sorrows, joys, injustices, and triumphs of the black community.

2017.173 Jafa Video Still 1480x987.jpg

Shin-Ga-Ba-W’Ossin (Chippewa)

Henry Inman
American, 1801–1846
Shin-Ga-Ba-W’Ossin (Chippewa), ca. 1831–1834
Oil on canvas
Gift of Ann and Tom Cousins, 2017.121

2017.121 Inman 1213x1480.jpg


Alexander Roux
American, born France, 1813–1886, designer and maker
Étagère, ca. 1850–1857
Rosewood, mahogany, ash, poplar, and mirrored glass
Virginia Carroll Crawford Collection, 1981.1000.66Wealthy homeowners used consoles like this one purely for the decorative display of porcelain, silver, or—the ultimate in frivolity—whatnots. The curved supports, elaborate floral displays, and cherubic figures that had decorated furniture a hundred years earlier were fashionable once again, even bolder and lusher in revival.

Db Photod8333u789833361981.1000.66view2 O2 1273x1480.jpg

Mrs. Ewen Hay Cameron

Julia Margaret Cameron
British, born India, 1815– 1879
Mrs. Ewen Hay Cameron, 1870
Albumen silver print
Purchase, 74.147Though chastised by her peers as a poor technician, Julia Margaret Cameron used soft focus and natural, emotive poses to make lyrical portraits of British celebrities and aristocracy, which were often inspired by literature and legend.Cameron took up photography at the age of forty‐eight in 1863 and was among a group of adventurous amateurs who experimented with the difficult photographic process during its early decades. Her work exemplifies women’s important roles in shaping the earliest artistic possibilities of photography.

D5029u2045029774.147cameron O2 1167x1480.jpg

Untitled (Cadmium)

Jean-Michel Basquiat
American, 1960–1988
Untitled (Cadmium), 1984
Oil, oil stick, and acrylic on canvas
Purchase in honor of Lynne Browne, President of the Members Guild, 1992–1993, with funds from Alfred Austell Thornton in memory of Leila Austell Thornton and Albert Edward Thornton. Sr. and Sarah Miller Venable and William Hoyt Venable, 1993.3Jean Michel Basquiat began his short but prolific career as a graffiti artist in the streets of New York. While possibly a self-portrait or an ancestral depiction, the figure in this painting represents an enlightened being whose eyes look inward for guidance.Images of the Sacred Heart to the right of the figure symbolize the Roman Catholic devotion to the Sacred Heart, which takes Jesus Christ’s physical heart as the representation of his divine love for humanity. It alludes simultaneously to the artist’s Catholic upbringing. Basquiat often juxtaposed symbols and glyphs in his paintings—similar in format to a rebus puzzle device—to suggest embedded hidden meanings.

D0414u226041431993.3basquiatcrop O2 1336x1480.jpg

KotaReliquary Guardian Figure

Kota Artist, Gabon
Reliquary Guardian Figure, late nineteenth–early twentieth century
Wood and brass
Gift of Pamela and Oliver Cobb, 2012.225

Db Photod7636u588763632012.225kotafront O2 1183x1480.jpg

Lazy Gals (Bars) Quilt

Arcola Pettway (American, 1934–1994)
Lazy Gals (Bars) Quilt, 1976
Museum purchase and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation from the William S. Arnett Collection, 2017.66Quiltmakers including Arcola Pettway have used their art to express both celebratory and critical sentiments toward their nation. In 1976, a year when patriotism surged in response to the bicentennial, Pettway rejected the Amer- ican flag’s traditionally red, white, and blue color scheme, instead interjecting shades of avocado green, brown, and tan into her design. The quilt variation was called “Lazy Gals” or “Bars” by Pettway and her fellow Gee’s Bend quilters due to the relative simplicity of its composition.

Db Photod9249u809924962017.66pettway O2 1480x1245.jpg

Christ and the Samaritan Woman

Il Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri)
Italian, 1591–1666
Christ and the Samaritan Woman, ca. 1650
Oil on canvas
Gift of Julie and Arthur Montgomery, 1980.56The biblical story of Christ and the Samaritan Woman was popular among Catholics in Counter-Reformation Italy who hoped to win back Protestant converts. Guercino himself painted at least five versions of the scene over the course of his career.The Gospel of John 4:1–42 records Christ’s discussion with a Samaritan woman, whose people were shunned by the Jews for their heretical beliefs. After debating the physical versus spiritual properties of water at Jacob’s well, the woman embraces Christ’s message and agrees to spread his word to the Samaritans.

Db Photod0977u804097781980.56guercinocrpafterconservationnov2017 O2 1480x1128.jpg

Skyscraper Bookcase

Paul T. Frankl
American, born Austria, 1887–1958, designer
Skyscraper Bookcase, 1926
Birch and lacquer
Paul T. Frankl
Frankl Galleries, Inc., New York, New York, established ca. 1929, manufacturer
Purchase in honor of Darlene Schultz, President of the Members Guild, 1991–92, with funds from the Decorative Arts Acquisition Endowment, 1991.404As early as 1925, Paul T. Frankl was designing furniture inspired by the new constructions in Manhattan, with their soaring heights, flat surfaces, sharp angles, and stepped silhouettes. His book New Dimensions (1928) extolled the skyscraper as a “distinctive and noble creation … a monument of towering engineering and business enterprise.” While Frankl, like many of his peers, was inspired by the American skyscraper, his work also suggested the budding modern styles of his native Vienna, where he had trained as an architect and worked until 1914.

Db Photod1306u757130691991.404franklview1 O2 1022x1480.jpg

Green Warehouse (Close View of Rear), Newbern, Alabama

William Christenberry
Green Warehouse (Close View of Rear), Newbern, Alabama, 1988, printed ca. 2001
Dye coupler print
Gift of the artist, 2014.108

D9170u210917082014.108christenberry O2 1480x1180.jpg

The Old Ku Klux: After All Their Fighting, Where’s the Profit?

Thornton Dial, Sr.
American, 1928–2016
The Old Ku Klux: After All Their Fighting, Where’s the Profit?, 1988
Plastic can lids, hemp rope, Bondo, and enamel on wood
Museum purchase and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation from the William S. Arnett Collection, 2017.46This early example of Thornton Dial’s painted assemblage demonstrates his unflinching approach to historical subjects. He assembled fourteen masked members of the Ku Klux Klan from bent plastic lids and frayed rope. Painted flowers distributed among the figures suggest a graveyard, alluding to both the victims of this terror organization as well as its members’ inevitable end. Dial’s title indicates that the Klan’s violence failed to gain them “profit,” for they would experience death just as those they so relentlessly tormented.

Db Photod9187u809918792017.46dial O2 1383x1480.jpg

St. Catherine of Alexandria

Niccolò di Segna
Italian, active 1331–1345
St. Catherine of Alexandria, ca. 1340
Tempera on panel
Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, 58.52These paintings of early Christian saints originally formed part of a large altarpiece made up of many panels, called a polyptych. The central panel of the Virgin and Child appeared flanked by saints, identifiable by distinctive attributes such as their clothing and the props they hold. Recent scholarship has aided in the reconstruction of the polyptych (shown in the illustration), which Niccolò di Segna created for the church of San Maurizio in Siena, Italy.

D3344u2043344658.52segna O2 987x1480.jpg

A museum collection is dynamic — always growing and evolving — so this opportunity has allowed us to thoughtfully revisit our existing presentations and reinstall the artworks in ways that resonate anew with our audiences.

Kevin W. Tucker, Chief Curator

Curator Snapshot

Stephanie Heydt headshot.

Stephanie Heydt
Margaret & Terry Stent Curator of American Art

How have you reframed your collection and what do you hope visitors will take away?
I hope this new installation will draw visitors’ attention to the strengths in the High’s collection. Seeing things in a new light can lead to exciting discoveries!

What are you most proud of in your reinstalled galleries?
I love the new pacing in the galleries—with moments of wonderful density with our salon walls, and then zones that have more of an airy feel. A few walls gesture towards context—we wanted to give our visitors a sense for how these objects most likely would have been enjoyed in the 19th century in someone’s home.

What is your favorite object in another curator’s collection area?
I love the vista from the 4th floor of Stent across to the Julie Mehretu canvas in the Wieland Skyway. It looks magical.
Do you love American art? Support the High by becoming a Friend of the American Art Collection.


Claudia Einecke
Frances B. Bunzl Family Curator of European Art

How have you reframed your collection and what do you hope visitors will take away?
I like the subtle rhythm of the new galleries, the way they flow one into another and at the same time create discrete spaces. Paintings and sculptures can be seen in dialogue across rooms, reflecting the stylistic ruptures and continuities in the long history of European art.

What are you most proud of in your reinstalled galleries?
I am very happy with the way sculptures punctuate the European galleries, giving relief and depth to the paintings with which they are displayed. I especially enjoy the group of imaginary heads and masks by Gauguin, Carriès, and Rosso in the 19th century gallery (Gallery 207).

What is your favorite object in another curator’s collection area?
As a newcomer to Atlanta and to the High, I am amazed and delighted by just about everything to see in the various collections. There are too many engaging works to single out just one favorite. One is Nandipha Mntambo’s Minotuarus, a powerful bronze figure that I find both beautiful and unsettling. In contrast, Fragile Future 3.13 (the “dandelion lamp”) by designers Lonneke Gorijns and Ralph Nauta is pure ethereal lightness and joy.
Do you love European art? Support the High by becoming a Friend of the European Art Collection.


Headshot of curator Katherine Jentleson.

Katherine Jentleson
The Merrie and Dan Boone Curator of Folk and Self‑Taught Art

How have you reframed your collection and what do you hope visitors will take away?
The folk and self-taught art collection will look very different because of the new acquisitions that are debuting, including dozens of works from our 2017 Souls Grown Deep acquisition. There will also be a lot of conversations across the collection between artists who are kindred spirits despite being classified in different departments, whether American, African, Modern and Contemporary, Photography, or Decorative Arts.

What are you most proud of in your reinstalled galleries?
I am proud of how this more integrated and eclectic presentation of self-taught artists will continue the ethos of our summer show, Outliers and American Vanguard Art, by mixing self-taught and trained artists, as well as highlight our leading collections of work by Bill Traylor, Howard Finster, Nellie Mae Rowe, and Thornton Dial in new ways.

What is your favorite object in another curator’s collection area?
The Arthur Jafa film Love Is The Message, The Message Is Death, which will be shown in a new black box space in the modern and contemporary galleries, is one of the most powerful and heartbreaking works of art I have ever seen. Jafa’s message about the disconnect between the elevation of black culture and the degradation of black people forces a necessary and difficult reflection for our painfully divided society.
Do you love folk and self-taught art? Support the High by becoming a Friend of the Folk and Self-Taught Art Collection.


Michael Rooks headshot.

Michael Rooks
Wieland Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art

How have you reframed your collection and what do you hope visitors will take away?
The contemporary collection has been reorganized to consider history in several different ways, offering opportunities for the audience to reframe history according to their individual experiences and through the lens of contemporaneity.

What are you most proud of in your reinstalled galleries?
I’m most proud of our new media space, specifically, and the adjacencies we’ve created in general between and among works by artists young and old.

What is your favorite object in another curator’s collection area?
Minotaurus in the African Collection!
Do you love modern and contemporary art? Support the High by becoming a Friend of the Modern and Contemporary Art Collection.


Greg Harris headshot

Gregory Harris
Associate Curator of Photography

How have you reframed your collection and what do you hope visitors will take away?
Our first exhibition in the new Photography galleries is a survey of the history of photography told through 6 thematic groups that look at different ways artists make photographs, the array of subjects they choose to focus on, or ways of understanding how photography works. We’re featuring some of our most prized and iconic prints as well as some hidden gems from our collection of over 7,000 photographs. I hope visitors will be able to get a sense for how varied photographs can be and how the medium opens up many different ways to engage with the world. Because photographs are sensitive to light, we’ll be changing the installation every 6 months, so visitors should come back regularly to see what we have on view.

What are you most proud of in your reinstalled galleries?
I’m most proud of the vital presence the photography department now has in the museum. It’s transformative and allows us to share our amazing collection with audiences in a way that previously wasn’t possible.

What is your favorite object in another curator’s collection area?
I love the new sculpture court and the whirligig installation in the Folk & Self-Taught galleries!
Do you love photography? Support the High by becoming a Friend of the Photography Collection.



More to Explore

Detail from a Kara Walker artwork featuring a black silhouetted image of a figure holding a tattered flag standing on top of a pile of severed limbs.

Kara Walker Interactive
In 2017, The High Museum acquired Kara Walker’s The Jubilant Martyrs of Obsolescence and Ruin. This important work addresses racial prejudice and inequality embedded in contemporary society. Using racist stereotypes and the graphic depiction of violence, Walker parodies the genteel, old fashioned form of miniature silhouette portraiture popular in the 1800s. This interactive allows visitors to learn more about the symbolism behind each silhouette and the history Walker references throughout the work.

Explore the Kara Walker Interactive

Henry Inman Portraits Interactive
The High Museum of Art is fortunate to hold in its collection eighteen portraits of Native American leaders by Henry Inman, twelve of which joined the collection in 2017 as a major gift from Atlanta philanthropists Ann and Tom Cousins. In addition, the High holds twelve portraits on long term loan from Cousins Properties, Inc. The newly installed American Art galleries feature fifteen of these portraits, and this interactive allows visitors to learn more about the history of the portraits as a group, and the biographies of each of the sitters.

Explore the Henry Inman Interactive

Reinstallation Catalogue
In conjunction with the reinstallation, the High will publish a full-color, 144-page catalogue highlighting iconic works within each of the Museum’s seven collecting areas.

Purchase your copy from the High’s online Shop or at the Museum.


Check out our reinstallation announcement press release and our reinstallation unveiling press release for more information. For periodic updates on our reinstallation progress, visit our blog.

Organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta
The reinstallation of the Permanent Collection is made possible by

Major Funding

Platinum Supporters

Robin and Hilton HowellHarriet WarrenAnonymous

Additional support provided by