121 Barnard Street
Telfair Museum of Art / Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences
National Historic Register
The Telfair Museum of Art houses the oldest art museum in the South. This classical Regency mansion, designed by English architect, William Jay and completed in 1819, was built for Alexander Telfair, whose father, Edward Telfair, was governor of Georgia and a Revolutionary War patriot. The exterior features a rectangular porch and four Corinthian columns with unusual coadestone capitals.
The mansion was home to the Telfair family until 1875, when Mary Telfair, an early patron of the arts and last of the Telfair line, bequeathed the mansion and its furnishings to the Georgia Historical Society in 1875 to be used as a museum. The building was enlarged in 1883 and a Sculpture Gallery and Rotunda were added. Many dignitaries including Jefferson Davis, former president of the Confederacy, attended the formal ceremony celebrating the grand opening in 1886.
The Telfair Art Museum serves as a regional and national resource for art, culture and history. The interior rooms have been carefully restored and provide the perfect backdrop for the museum's permanent collection of paintings, such as American French, and German Impressionists, exquisite furniture, Savannah-made silver, and the original mantelpieces, moldings, cornices, and innovations for which Jay was to famous. Of particular note are some Telfair family pieces, which include a rare Philadelphia suite of maple furniture and an unusual dining table with two sets of semi-circular leaves commissioned from Thomas cook of Philadelphia.
The museum also features one of the largest public collections of paintings by the Lebanese poet and artist, Kahlil Gibran, best known as the author of "The Prophet." Mary Haskell, a devoted patron and lifelong friend, who moved to Savannah and married Jacob Florance Minis, donated over 80 of Gibran's drawings and paintings to the museum.
The Telfair Art Museum is open daily:
Admission fee - free for members