The SCAD Museum of Art serves students and visitors alike as a teaching museum with twin goals of enriching the high caliber of education SCAD provides its students and reaching out to the Savannah community and beyond.
The SCAD Museum of Art showcases work by acclaimed artists, providing opportunities for students from all majors to learn from art world luminaries and expand their artistic points of view.
Mounting more than 20 exhibitions each year, the museum has presented renowned artists including Jane Alexander, Uta Barth, Lynda Benglis, Alfredo Jaar, Sigalit Landau, Liza Lou, Angel Otero, Yinka Shonibare, Kehinde Wiley and Fred Wilson. André Leon Talley, Vogue contributing editor and former SCAD trustee, has curated couture exhibitions, such as "Little Black Dress," alongside ever-changing, site-specific installations by such artists as Kendall Buster, Ingrid Calame, Odili Donald Odita and Jack Whitten. The museum's permanent collection includes the Walter O. Evans Collection of African American Art, the Modern and Contemporary Art Collection, the Earle W. Newton Collection of British and American Art, the 19th- and 20th-century Photography Collection and the SCAD Costume Collection.
The museum building itself is a work of art, demonstrating the university's ongoing commitment to historic preservation and adaptive reuse. Constructed in 1853, the original walls feature handmade Savannah gray bricks, forming the oldest surviving antebellum railroad depot in the country. In 2011, this National Historic Landmark was transformed into an award-winning, modern museum building by architect Christian Sottile, a SCAD alumnus and dean of the SCAD School of Building Arts.
SCAD students are the heart of this teaching museum; they attend academic classes and career workshops, lecture series, film screenings, gallery talks and annual events within its storied walls. They also serve as museum docents, welcoming visitors, interpreting the exhibitions and interacting with illustrious museum guests. As a center for cultural dialogue, the SCAD Museum of Art engages students through dynamic, interdisciplinary educational experiences.
The landmark rehabilitation of the SCAD Museum of Art, the largest project of its kind in SCAD history, has advanced the university's award-winning legacy of adaptive reuse and urban revitalization. The $26 million expansion added 65,000 square feet to the former museum facility and the building now features many notable design elements including a prominent entrance marked by an 86-foot-high steel and glass lantern; a contradistinctive façade uniting original 19th-century Savannah gray brick with modern composite materials; a manicured courtyard and streetscape; outdoor lecture and performance spaces; and an events terrace and adjoining atrium. Inside, the expansion allows the museum to present engaging exhibitions and installations from renowned and emerging artists, as well as showcase works from the university's diverse permanent collection. Much of the museum's expansion has focused on art stewardship, as evidenced by dedicated areas for shipment, quarantine, framing and de-framing, and curatorial supply storage.
Since opening its doors in October 2011, the renovated museum has been celebrated for its inspired architecture and design, world-class exhibitions and visionary community outreach and education programs that enrich art enthusiasts, educators and students of all ages.
SCAD is proud to be recognized by the following:
The SCAD Museum of Art is a radiant example of the university's legacy of innovative building adaptation and reuse. Since 1978, SCAD has revitalized more than 100 structures in Savannah and Atlanta, Georgia; Lacoste, France; and Hong Kong.
The SCAD Museum of Art is housed in an 1853 brick structure that was once a railway depot for the Central of Georgia Railway. This National Historic Landmark is the only surviving antebellum railroad complex in the country. The museum has breathed life into these ruins, which once extended more than 800 feet along Turner Boulevard's southern frontage. Originally conceived as a major trade post for Savannah, the railroad complex was occupied by Union troops at the close of the Civil War. In the early 20th century, the area surrounding much of the Central of Georgia Railroad buildings emerged as an important African American commercial district and cultural hub, and remained so through the mid 20th century. Despite its prime location and significant pedigree, the complex was beset by five decades of neglect and by the late 20th century, the depot and its precious Savannah gray brick lay in ruins. Yet, a wealth of natural beauty and possibility remained, sparking SCAD's commitment to its students and to the Savannah community at large.
Following a groundbreaking ceremony in January 2010, SCAD architects, designers and craftsmen integrated the building's history with its bright new future, analyzing and reproducing key original components down to the chemical compounds in the 19th-century mortar. The ethos of the rehabilitated SCAD Museum of Art is best articulated by its glittering atrium, an 86-foot-high steel and glass lantern featuring the first beacon that welcomes visitors and elegantly redefines the Savannah city skyline.
Visitors to the museum encounter a 12-foot-long horizontal touch pad in the building's atrium. The interactive table delivers images and comprehensive information about the museum's artists, exhibitions and events, and accommodates up to 40 users at one time.
Wherever possible, museum designers and architects used sustainable, renewable materials and employed the very best in energy-saving technologies. At present, the museum is outfitted with low-energy-consuming light fixtures, zoned climate control, exterior cooling towers, low-flow plumbing fixtures for water-use reduction and low-emissivity (low-E) glass on the south elevation. Landscape planning for the courtyard made use of xeriscape planning, porous paving materials and custom irrigation plans.
Salvaged bricks and original heart pine timbers appear throughout the museum, and the original high ceilings, most of which were kept, allow for optimal temperature regulation and provide a dramatic background for the display and experience of art.
As part of SCAD deFINE ART 2016, the Savannah College of Art and Design honored two important figures in American history. In celebration of William and Ellen Craft and their daring escape from slavery, the university commissioned and installed a commemorative bronze medallion — designed by SCAD alumnus and foundation studies professor Andrew MacDonald (M.F.A. illustration) — in the lobby of the SCAD Museum of Art.
In 1848 the Crafts, an enslaved African-American couple, escaped from their masters in Macon, Georgia, to embark on a perilous four-day journey to the Northern free states. To make their escape, they devised a plan for fair-skinned Ellen to pose as a deaf, white male slave owner and William as her attendant slave. Upon completing the first stage of their journey, the Crafts arrived in Savannah, passing through the Central of Georgia Railway depot — the very place where the SCAD Museum of Art stands today.
Safe passage through Savannah was the first divination of their successful journey, one that would ultimately land them in England in search of refuge. Nineteen years later, after the conclusion of the Civil War, the Crafts returned to nearby Bryan County, Georgia, and founded the Woodville Co-operative Farm School, established to educate newly freed slaves and help them secure employment. "The story of William and Ellen Craft is one of incredible triumph in which two people, uplifted by their enduring love and commitment to each other, found the strength to defy the limitations life put on them and pursue their inherent right to freedom," explains SCAD President and Founder Paula Wallace.
Dr. Walter O. Evans, a member of the SCAD Board of Visitors and benefactor of the SCAD Museum of Art's Walter O. Evans Collection of African American Art, originally shared the story of the Crafts with Wallace during the SCAD Museum of Art's expansion in 2011. Dr. Evans added, "This acknowledgment by SCAD — recognizing the passage of the Crafts through this place that today stands as an educational and cultural junction of the highest order — is a perfect illustration of how SCAD rises to every occasion, taking care to celebrate narratives both well known and lesser known so that we all might share in the universality of the human experience."
SCAD maintains a permanent collection of more than 4,500 artworks, many of which appear on rotation at the museum. The SCAD permanent collection includes:
Classrooms at the SCAD Museum of Art host 72 classes each week. Class disciplines include art history, museum studies, graphic design, fashion, production design and many more. Purpose-built to support the academic and creative programs at SCAD, the museum's theater hosts a monthly schedule of film screenings, academic lectures and master classes with visiting artists and creative professionals.