Located at 207 York Street, this modern building stands out among the many historic buildings in the area. A part of the Telfair Museums, the Jepson Center for The Arts lures visitors in with an extensive collection of artwork, an interactive children’s museum and a charming café. Enjoy a relaxing lunch as the sunlight fills the room in the center of the museum that overlooks the square. Temporary and permanent exhibits showcase everything from photography to sculpture, making it a great outing for art enthusiasts and adults and children of all ages.
Clad in glistening white Portuguese limestone, the Jepson Center is a showplace for a wide variety of contemporary works. The distinguished institution situated on Telfair Square treats visitors to an ever-changing display of exceptional works from classical European masters to emerging local artists. With 14,000 square feet of space, the Jepson Center is an integral part of the highly regarded Telfair Museums. It is a great place to gain a deeper understanding of modern art and artists. Along with world-renowned traveling exhibitions, the Jepson galleries display works from the museum’s permanent collection, such as the “Black Prince at Crecy” by Julian Story. The museum also houses the iconic Bird Girl statue that adorned the cover of the best-selling novel “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” The ArtZeum is an interactive gallery where children and families can discover and explore the world of modern art through hands-on activities.
The Telfair Museum was established in 1886 and earned accolades for its collection of European and American works. In order to display more of its growing collection as well as traveling exhibits, the museum expanded in the early 2000s. Designed by internationally acclaimed architect Moshe Safdie, the ultra-modern Jepson Center opened to the public in 2006. The structure features a sweeping three-level staircase and a soaring light-filled atrium that creates a bright, airy atmosphere. The trellised glass and steel roof casts a rich pattern of shadows along the floor and walls. The center’s two buildings are connected by a skywalk spanning West York Lane, a historic roadway that was part of James Oglethorpe’s original 1733 design for Georgia’s Colonial-era capital city. The expansive gallery space enables the museum to host large-scale exhibits that were not previously possible in the landmark Telfair Academy.
The Jepson Center houses the Kirk Varnedoe Collection, a cornerstone of the museum’s holdings. A former curator of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and Savannah native, Varnedoe assembled works on paper by a variety of luminaries, including Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns and Chuck Close. The Center also displays artwork by James Brooks, William Christenberry and Helen Levitt as well as several artists from Georgia.
The museum’s permanent collection contains over 4,500 paintings, sculptures, photographs and decorative art objects from America, Europe and Asia primarily from the 18th through the 20th century. There are remarkable examples of American impressionism and the Ashcan School as well as the largest public collection of visual art by popular Lebanese literary figure Kahlil Gibran, the author of “The Prophet.”
The 3,500-square-foot ArtZeum as well as the center’s 220-seat auditorium, community gallery and educational spaces are the settings for a variety of educational programs, talks, films and other special events. There is also a rooftop sculpture terrace.
While the Jepson Center charges an admission fee, discounts are available to seniors, students and military personnel. Children 12 and younger are admitted free. Valid for a week, the ticket includes access to all three of the Telfair Museum sites. The Center offers an architectural tour twice daily at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. In-depth tours of specific featured exhibitions are conducted Monday through Friday at 2 p.m. The guided tours are included in the price of admission.
The Jepson Center is open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. On Sunday and Monday, the museum opens at noon and closes at 5 p.m. The Jepson Center is closed on New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day and for the observance of St. Patrick’s Day as well as Easter, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The museum closes at 3 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and Christmas Eve.
Pencil sketching along with non-flash photography and video are permitted. Food and beverages as well as tripods, selfie sticks and easels are not allowed in the galleries. The exhibit halls are wheelchair accessible and strollers are permitted in the museum. Large bags and backpacks must be checked at the coatroom. The museum has a café and gift shop.
There is limited metered parking on the street near the Center. Located nearby, a surface and two parking garages charge varying hourly rates. To avoid the hassle of driving in city traffic and trying to find an affordable place to park, ride the Old Town Trolley to the Jepson Center. The exciting and informative sightseeing tour provides intriguing insights into the history and little-known facts about Savannah. Ride the trolley to Jepson Center and explore the museum at your own pace. When you are finished, climb aboard the next trolley and resume the guided tour that highlights over 100 points of interest in Savannah.
Telfair Academy is the first public art museum in Savannah and the oldest in the Southern United States. Mary Telfair, a prominent local citizen, donated this National Landmark Regency-style mansion designed by William Jay. Opening in 1886, the museum displays an extensive collection of American and European artwork.
Adorned by a statue of James Oglethorpe by Daniel Chester French, Chippewa Square is the setting for the bench where the title character in “Forrest Gump” waited for the bus. A replica of the bench used in the movie is housed in the Visitor Center.
Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace is the childhood home of the founder of the Girl Scouts. Open for public tours, the house museum is furnished with period pieces and Gordon family heirlooms. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) Museum of Art features rotating exhibits of contemporary art designed to inspire its students as well as visitors. It hosts more than 20 exhibitions each year in a variety of media highlighting international famous artists. The award-winning museum is housed in a repurposed historic landmark railroad depot that was built in 1853.