From world music to experimental theater, Savannah offers a rich tapestry of arts experiences throughout the year. For a relatively small metropolitan area, this coastal haven offers plenty of big-city opportunities to enjoy the arts at their finest and was recently named one of America’s “Top 25 Arts Destinations” by AmericanStyle magazine.
The explosion of the city’s visual art scene in recent years has been inextricably linked to the growth of the Savannah College of Art and Design, also known as SCAD. This award-winning art college began in 1979 with one downtown building and 71 students.The school enrolls more than 9,000 students in 42 undergraduate and graduate programs, making it the largest art college in the United States. Kaplan/Newsweek’s prestigious list of “America’s 25 Hottest Colleges” recently named SCAD as “Hottest Art College.” With nationally-acclaimed programs in graphic design, film and television, fashion, photography, and animation, SCAD adds a jolt of creative energy to the city’s art scene.
Savannah’s Telfair Museum of Art, which first opened its doors in 1886, is the South’s oldest art museum. This National Historic Landmark overlooking Telfair Square houses an acclaimed permanent collection as well as rotating exhibits. Highlights include its American Impressionist paintings, an extensive American and European decorative arts collection, and a newly-renovated sculpture gallery.
Designed by internationally acclaimed architect Moshe Safdie and located within steps of the Telfair Museum of Art, the Telfair’s Jepson Center for the Arts features a dazzling collection of contemporary art plus traveling exhibitions and dedicated galleries for African-American art, Southern art, and photography. The permanent collection includes works by contemporary masters such as Jasper Johns, Chuck Close, Roy Lichtenstein, and Robert Rauschenberg.
Housed in a sleek white stone and glass building, the Jepson Center also offers a two-level hands-on gallery for children and families. This “Artzeum” emphasizes fun activities including a public art game, an interactive magnet sculpture area, and activity walls that function as ever-changing collaborative works of art created by the museum’s visitors. The first Saturday of each month, the Jepson Center hosts a free program for kids.
Local cafes showcase some of the city’s most exciting emerging talent, while contemporary art galleries and artist co-ops attract visitors from across the United States. City Market houses restaurants, shops, and boutiques on the ground level but its entire upper level consists of artist studios, offering a taste of Savannah’s thriving art scene.