When it was founded in 1905, the Atlanta Art Association consisted of a small collection of masterworks gathered from some of the city’s most prominent families. Over the decades, the museum grew: in 1926, the High family, for whom the present museum is named, donated their home to house the growing collection; in the 1950’s a larger building was erected adjacent to the home. A pleasant collection was forming.
Then, in 1962, tragedy struck. A collective of Atlanta’s elite art patrons were finishing a month-long tour of Europe’s cultural capitals in the hopes that the trip could bring valuable insight back home. As their plane was leaving the runway in Paris’s Orly Field, however, it crashed, killing all 130 on board. Many were members of Atlanta’s elite families. The loss was devastating, not only to the arts community but to the city as a whole.
To honor their memory, an outpouring of support ensued. By the late 1960s, the Memorial Arts Center was completed in Midtown; since then, it has been one of the region’s premier destinations for the performing and visual arts — the permanent collection of artwork was housed here during that time.
By the 1980s, the High Museum of Art received its very own building — a Pritzker Prize-winning structure of 135,000 square feet, that today, houses much of the treasures. The 2000’s saw the addition of three buildings, attached to the first, bringing the total footprint of the facility to more than 300,000 square feet. The result is the leading art museum in the southeastern United States.
The story of Atlanta can be found in the establishment of the High Museum of Art. Atlanta was burned during the Civil War, but from the ashes came resilience, as the city was slowly rebuilt into the capital it is today. Those lost at Orly Field will never be forgotten, so long as each successive generation carries on the legacy they started.
1280 Peachtree St. NE
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