Jepson Center: History and Harmony
After a century of collecting, exhibiting, and educating Savannah and its visitors about art, history, and architecture, Telfair Museums’ Director and Board of Trustees identified the need for a new, larger facility. Their primary objectives were to increase the capacity for traveling exhibitions, continue an emphasis on education and community involvement, and increase archival storage for a growing collection. The museums’ Board of Directors envisioned a building representative of its time but also open, welcoming, and inviting. They also understood that, in a National Historic Landmark District, it would be challenging to express these ideals in architecture.
Five internationally recognized architectural firms presented their ideas to the trustees in 1998. The trustees unanimously chose Moshe Safdie and Associates. Safdie offered an outstanding international track record of responsible, compelling designs in historic settings, and he excited them with his passion about the possibilities of the new project. Safdie also offered a clear and stimulating vision of a building that would harmonize with its surroundings and welcome the community.
What nobody envisioned was a two-year controversy surrounding the proposed project as the design team made its case before Savannah’s Historic Review Board. Only the passion and dedication of countless individuals enabled the grand vision for the Jepson Center to endure, providing Savannah with a truly iconic structure that, in the words of Safdie, is “vital, contemporary, appropriate to the expression of art to come … and a building you cannot conceive of anywhere else but Savannah.”
Machines of Futility: Unproductive Technologies
TechSpace: Get Hands-on With Technology-based Art
Over the last decade, the Jepson Center has showcased some of the most innovative and unique new media artworks during the annual PULSE Festival. With TechSpace, Telfair Museums has created a long-term gallery for the exhibition of digital art.
Jepson Center’s TechSpace is an interactive and technology-based gallery for visitors of all ages. TechSpace provides a window into some of the 21st-Century techniques and technologies used by contemporary artists and examines how lines have blurred between visual art and computer science.
This year-round gallery features new media art from Telfair’s permanent collection, as well as long-term installations of interactive art from previous editions of Telfair’s PULSE festival.
Come Explore the ArtZeum
The Jepson Center houses ArtZeum, an interactive children’s museum space. It’s designed with young people in mind, but it challenges young and old alike to rethink their ideas about art. The ArtZeum features 14 activities exploring some big ideas about art: What is it? Why do we make it? How do we look at art? How do we value it?
Normally we don’t recommend walking into the art, but the ArtZeum has two stations where you can do just that. Step into a reproduction of the artist Gari Melchers’ home inspired by his painting The Unpretentious Garden (the original is on view in the Telfair Academy rotunda). ArtZeum boasts reproductions of other artworks from the Telfair collection as well, and a wall where you can be the curator and choose which art to display.
Also inside the ArtZeum is a glass wall made just for expressing your creative side. Have an opinion? Tell us which work of art is a must-have if you are moving to the moon. Interested in 3D? Use our special magnetic tiles to transform 2D shapes to 3D forms. Learn about the art of architecture. Puzzle out the differences and similarities between the three landmark Telfair buildings. Try on a Capital Cap and think about what it would feel like to hold up a building. Create your own buildings with architectural blocks.
When you are ready for a break, you can relax with an art book in one of our big comfy chairs designed by Phillipe Starck, made just right for a snuggle and a read.
ArtZeum has been generously supported by Chatham County, Gulfstream Aerospace, and the Telfair Academy Guild.
#art912 is an initiative dedicated to raising the visibility and promoting the vitality of artists living and working in Savannah through exhibition opportunities, public programs, and outreach.
#art912 Lounge: Artists are invited by Telfair curators to present work in the #art912 lounge space, either through a site-specific response or as an opportunity to present a new body of work.
Boxed In/Break Out Artists are invited to submit proposals for a public art installation in the windows of the Jepson Center that face Barnard Street.
#art912 on Social Media
Telfair Museums encourages anyone who is making art, looking at art, or talking about art in Savannah to use #art912 on any social media platform to talk about art or artists in Savannah.