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Rediscover the Reinstalled High Museum Collection in a Whole New Way

The reimagined High Museum core installation invites visitors young and old to discover new artistic and thematic connections.

Published 11/01/18

Photo of the Modern and Contemporary Art galleries by CatMax Photography.

The High Museum’s core collection reopened in October, complete with beautifully renovated gallery spaces and curatorial reconfigurations that draw meaningful connections and enhance the visitor experience.

The reinstallation is a huge undertaking in terms of both theme and logistics. Since the museum’s expansion opened in 2005, the High has added more than 6,500 artworks to its collection, now totaling more than 17,000 objects from iconic masterworks to recent acquisitions across all departments.

When you visit the refreshed, reimagined and diversified High Museum, here are few things to keep in mind while you discover (and rediscover) all that this incredible institution has to offer.

Photo of Kara Walker's "The Jubilant Martyrs of Obsolescence and Ruin" (2015) in the Modern and Contemporary Art galleries; Photo by CatMax Photography.

Encounter New Perspectives with Works from Minority Artists

Museum curations often reflect current topics and issues, and that is certainly true for this reinstallation which takes care to present perspectives from artists of color, women, as well as an unprecedented number of regional artists. Don’t miss these new artworks from minority artists:

  • Kara Walker’s “The Jubilant Martyrs of Obsolescence and Ruin”
  • Arthur Jafa’s video “Love Is The Message, The Message Is Death,” on view in the new screening room in the Anne Cox Chambers Wing.
  • “Minotaurus” by contemporary South African artist Nandipha Mntambo


A cropped photo of Howard Finster's "What Is the Soul of Man" ca. 1976, the first year Finster fully devoted himself to painting and working as an artist. | Photo by Midtown Alliance

View the High’s Unparalleled Self-Taught Art Collection Alongside Contemporary Art

You’ll notice right away that the expanded gallery space for folk art—Bill Traylor, Howard Finster, Nellie Mae Rowe, Thornton Dial and more—now feels more open with additional places to sit, rest and reflect. What you might not notice at first is the purposeful juxtaposition of self-taught artists alongside their more traditionally trained contemporaries, according to folk and self-taught art curator Katie Jentleson. “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,” Jentleson said.


Photo of the object label for "Minotaurus" by  South African artist Nandipha Mntambo, which was acquired by the museum in 2017. 

Learn from a Curator: Identifying New Works

As you walk through the newly reinstalled collections, you’ll see many familiar works as well as art pieces that are new to the collection. In order to identify new acquisitions, all you need is a quick lesson in reading the object label. In addition to the artwork’s title, creation date, artist photo (a welcome new addition) and information about the artwork, you’ll see a small collection of numbers at the bottom of the card. This is the accession number which includes the year that the artwork was acquired by the museum. Wherever you see 2017 or later, it’s likely to be a piece you’ve never seen before.


Photo of the "CREATE" side of the newly redesigned Greene Family Education Center at the High Museum. The center art station will feature a new project each week. The moveable color wheels, panels and foam blocks allow children to create and recreate the space over and over again while taking advantage of the room's natural light. | Photo courtesy of the High Museum

Create Magic in the New Greene Family Learning Gallery

In a spectacularly colorful redesign, the High worked with Roto design firm to create an interactive and experiential learning experience for children that will be sure to enthrall adults just as easily. The immersive experience is now twice the square footage of its previous iteration, dividing the space into “create” and “experience” areas that are divided by a hallway. Through the use of light and sound, kids can create art in one area and “send” their artworks to be viewed by other children in the “experience” section. Each space includes a baby-safe area, as well as corners to create, experience or escape. The kid-friendly activities are inspired by works in the High’s collection, core art principles, and even the architecture of the museum itself. “We wanted to use technology to create magic, not just something you can do at home,” said Julia Forbes, head of museum digital engagement.

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