If you purchase an Owens-Thomas House ticket, you also get free admission to the Telfair Academy and the Jepson Center.
The Owens-Thomas House is considered by architectural historians to be one of the finest examples of English Regency architecture in America. Inspired by classical antiquity, this style of architecture takes its name from England’s King George IV, who ruled as Prince Regent from 1811 to 1820.
The house was designed by the young English architect William Jay (1792-1837), one of the first professionally-trained architects practicing in the United States. The elegant residence was built from 1816-1819 for cotton merchant and banker Richard Richardson and his wife Francis Bolton. Mr. Richardson’s brother-in-law was married to Ann Jay, the architect’s sister.
A National Historic Landmark, the stately former residence is now a historic house museum. It boasts a decorative arts collection comprised primarily of Owens family furnishings, along with American and European objects dating from 1750-1830. The site also includes a beautiful English-inspired parterre garden and an original carriage house-which contains one of the earliest intact urban slave quarters in the South.
Designed by British architectural prodigy William Jay in the neoclassical Regency style, the Telfair Academy is a former mansion built from 1818-1819 for Alexander Telfair, son of Revolutionary War patriot and Georgia governor Edward Telfair.
In 1875, Alexander’s sister Mary – heir to the family fortune and last to bear the Telfair name – bequeathed the house and its furnishings to the Georgia Historical Society to be opened as a museum. After significant renovation by German-born architect Detlef Lienau, whose adaptations included the addition of the Sculpture Gallery and the Rotunda, the building opened to the public in 1886 as the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences.
The Telfair Academy contains two nineteenth-century period rooms and houses nineteenth- and twentieth-century American and European art from the museum’s permanent collection including paintings, works on paper, sculpture, and decorative arts. Highlights include fine examples of American Impressionism and Ashcan School Realism, with major paintings by Childe Hassam, Frederick Frieseke, Gari Melchers, Robert Henri, George Bellows, and George Luks.
Devoted to the art of today, the contemporary Jepson Center links Telfair’s future with its past, unifying the museum’s three distinct sites.
The building, designed by Moshe Safdie and opened to the public in 2006, features over 7,500 square feet of gallery space for major traveling exhibitions of contemporary art and installations of works from the permanent collection. Educational programming takes place in the 220-seat auditorium, community gallery, education studios, and ArtZeum-a unique, 3,500-square foot interactive gallery for children and families.
The Jepson Center is home to the Telfair’s Kirk Varnedoe Collection, a cornerstone of the museum’s contemporary holdings. Assembled in honor of the late Savannah native, scholar, and MoMA curator Kirk Varnedoe, the collection features works on paper by some of the most pivotal artists of the past fifty years, including Jasper Johns, Chuck Close, Roy Lichtenstein, Jeff Koons, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, and Richard Avedon. The museum’s diverse contemporary collection also features important works by William Christenberry, Helen Levitt, Sam Gilliam, James Brooks, and many notable Georgia artists.