High Museum to Reveal Reinstallation of Permanent Collection

Henry Church’s A Friend in Need Is a Friend Indeed, recently purchased for the High by the Forward Arts Foundation, will be on display as part of the reinstallation of the museum’s permanent collection.

Atlanta’s High Museum of Art is set to unveil the reinstallation of its permanent collection, an effort which has been underway since last April and involves all seven of the museum’s departments, as part of the museum’s free Second Saturday event on October 14. The reinstallation represents the first significant rehang of the collection since 2005, the year architect Renzo Piano’s expansion opened. Since then, the museum has acquired over six thousand additional artworks, bringing the High’s collection to a total of over 17 thousand objects.

“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,” said chief curator Kevin Tucker.  “Importantly, the reinstallation highlights the strengths of our collection and makes connections between our curatorial departments while also addressing much-needed updates to ensure our visitors have more engaging, meaningful and memorable experiences in the galleries. [These] new presentations embrace equity, diversity and approachability throughout.”

Detail of Kara Walker’s 2015 cut-paper installation The Jubilant Martyrs of Obsolescence and Ruin.

At the opening of the reinstalled permanent collection next month, several artworks will be on view for the first time or for the first time in many years. One of the mostly highly anticipated of these newly acquired works is Kara Walker’s 58-feet-long cut-paper installation The Jubilant Martyrs of Obsolescence and Ruin, which joins two other portfolios of the artist’s work in the museum’s collection. Perhaps this local excitement is more than a little ironic given that the installation originally appeared in an exhibition called Go to Hell or Atlanta, Whichever Comes First at Victoria Miro in London in 2015.

Also in the High’s modern and contemporary galleries, works by artists including Adrian Piper, Glenn Ligon, Lynda Benglis, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Robert Rauschenberg will be on view for the first time in many years, alongside works by Georgia artists including Benny Andrews, Beverly Buchanan, Radcliffe Bailey, and Donald Locke. The museum’s newly renovated photography galleries will feature works by Nan Goldin, William Eggleston, Diane Arbus and others in an exhibition highlighting the High’s collection of photographs, and an exhibition of works by William Christenberry will inaugurate the nearby galleries newly dedicated to works on paper.

The museum’s folk and self-taught art department will present several works recently acquired by the High from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, including works by Thornton Dial, Bill Traylor, and William Edmondson. Henry Church’s 1888 sculpture A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed, purchased for the museum by the Forward Arts Foundation, will also be on display.

The scheduled unveiling of the reinstalled collection precedes what promises to be a blockbuster season for the High Museum, where Yayoi Kusama’s exhibition “Infinity Mirrors” is set to open on November 17. Other upcoming exhibitions this fall include “With Drawn Arms,” a collaboration between conceptual artist Glenn Kaino and Tommie Smith, the athlete who raised his fist in protest during an awards ceremony at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.

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