If you’re looking for a fun and educational road trip destination, look no further than the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, Georgia. This museum is home to a wide variety of paintings, sculptures, and other pieces from various American artists with southern roots. The Morris Museum is located along Augusta’s River Walk which follows the southern shore of the Savanah River, offering a beautiful backdrop for a day spent exploring the museum’s collections.
About Morris Museum
The Morris Museum of Art was founded in 1985 by William S. Morris III, who published The Augusta Chronicle. The museum was the first art museum dedicated to collecting and exhibiting artists of the American South. Morris seeded the collection with 230 works and the museum officially opened to the public on September 26, 1992.
Today, the museum continues its mission to showcase the work of well-known and lesser-known artists with southern ties with a collection of over 5,000 works by more than 800 artists. The Morris Museum of Art is a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate museum and accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.
The Morris Museum Collection
With such a large collection of works, only a fraction can be on display at any one time. Still, it is thoughtfully curated in a series of galleries including Nineteenth Century Portraits, Images of the Civil War, The Southern Landscape, Impressions of the South, and Contemporary Art of the South. Pieces vary from the tragic to the whimsical, photorealistic to abstract, classic oils, to folk art.
Visiting the Morris Museum
Compared to sprawling art institutions such as the Met, the Morris Museum is relatively small. We devote two hours to exploring the exhibits and come away satisfied. Fortunately, admission comes at a similarly small price tag: $5 for adults, $3 for students, military, and seniors, and free for children 12 and under. Price-conscious art lovers can enjoy the exhibits for free on Sunday.
Along with the exhibits on display, the museum staff also organizes seasonal rotating exhibits, events, and community outreach programs. Visit the museum’s calendar to stay up to date with the latest lectures, family activities, screenings, and other events.
The Morris Museum is located at 1 Tenth Street in Augusta, Georgia. It is easily accessible from I-20. While plentiful parking is available on-site, the museum is also located along the Augusta Canal’s River Walk, which makes for a beautiful stroll on a sunny day and connects the museum to other landmarks such as the Augusta Museum of History.
We walk to the museum along the River Walk on a warm Fall day. While the weather is comfortable if humid, I am grateful that I brought my rain jacket in the air-conditioned museum. We spend a couple of hours wandering the exhibits. There’s no wrong way to tour the museum. Still, we choose to start old and progress contemporary by starting in the 19th-century portrait gallery and winding through works around the civil war into exhibits of glassware, abstract sculpture, and southern landscapes.
We encounter two untitled portraits attributed to Samuel F. B. Morse better known for his development of the Morse Code. A scathing piece of art by Thomas Shatterwhite Noble depicts a “gentleman farmer” selling his bi-racial son into slavery entitled The Price of Blood (1868). And what must be a crowd favorite, Col. Poole’s Pig Hill of Fame a painting depicting a roadside BBQ joint overshadowed by a hill littered with cutout pigs by John Baeder (1995).
Overall, our time at the Morris Museum of Art is an afternoon well spent and an ideal stop while traveling through Augusta. We left feeling culturally enriched for the low price of admission and would recommend a visit to anyone in the area with an art appreciation.