The Morris Museum of Art, located on the Riverwalk in downtown Augusta, Georgia, is the first museum dedicated to the art and artists of the American South. The collection includes holdings of nearly 5,000 paintings, works on paper, photographs, and sculptures dating from the late-eighteenth century to the present. In addition to the permanent collection galleries, the museum hosts eight to ten temporary special exhibitions every year.

The museum also houses the Center for the Study of Southern Art, a reference and research library that includes archives pertaining to artists working in the South.


According to the museum's charter, The purpose of the Morris Museum of Art shall be: to enhance the quality of life in the Central Savannah River Area and to broaden the knowledge and understanding of the visual arts in the Southeastern United States by collecting, preserving and displaying works of art focused upon, but not limited to, the art and artists of the American South; by creating and hosting quality traveling exhibitions; and by developing and maintaining a library and research center focusing on Southern American painting; and to contribute to the general appreciation of art through lecture programs, symposia, publications, and other educational programs.

Over the years since its founding, the museum has adopted a simpler "purpose statement," to wit: The Morris Museum of Art exists for the purpose of collecting the art of the American South and interpreting same in regional, national, and global contexts. This guideline is intended to distill and forcefully express the museum's core mission-the creation, maintenance, and interpretation of a collection of works of art that serve as a visual correlative to the culture of the South. That mission is supported by the belief that, as museum pioneer John Cotton Dana once wrote, "a good museum attracts, entertains, arouses curiosity, leads to questioning, and thus promotes learning."

The Morris Museum of Art is dedicated to encouraging artistic inquiry, providing a rich visitor experience, and exercising civic responsibility.

First incorporated as a nonprofit foundation in 1985, the Morris Museum of Art was established by William S. Morris III in memory of his parents William Shivers Morris, Jr,. and Florence Hill Morris.

The purchase in 1989 of 230 paintings from the collection of Robert P. Coggins, a renowned collector of Southern art, established a focus and direction for the museum. Parts of Coggins's vast collection had been exhibited in museums around the country, and several other public institutions were vying for it when the purchase was made on behalf of the nascent Morris Museum. Another significant development of that year was the establishment of a reference library, which has evolved into the Center for the Study of Southern Art, an important reference resource.

The Board of Trustees wrote and adopted the museum's mission statement in 1990, reflecting the museum's principal interest in the art and artists of the South. Also that year, Keith Claussen became the museum's acting director, and plans were first developed for adapting space in an office building, the Riverfront Center, to house the museum's growing collection.

On September 26, 1992, the Morris Museum of Art opened its doors to the public and attracted more than ten thousand visitors in its first three months of operation. Since then, it has strived to fulfill its promise to make the language of artistic expression in the South accessible to a large and diverse audience through dozens of exhibitions and publications. The museum's education department has developed art education programs at many different grade levels in partnership with local school systems and has offered docent-led tours of the museum's holdings and exhibitions to thousands of visitors of all ages every year. The museum's public programs—whether storytelling sessions, readings, concerts, lectures, conversations with artists, or art-making workshops—have contributed to the renaissance of downtown Augusta.

At its tenth anniversary celebration in September 2002, the museum's founder, William S. Morris III, offered a vision of the museum's future that included the continued expansions of the museum's presence as an important contributor to the community's social and cultural resources and economic vitality, as well as to the country's understanding and appreciation of the culture of the region.

Contributed by Anonymous
You are redirected to this page because your browser does not accept cookies and/or does not support Javascript. Please check your browser settings and try again.