Beginning with pre-Columbian Native American history and 16th century Spanish settlement of the coast, the Georgia Pioneer Gallery focuses on General Oglethorpe’s creation of the Colony of Georgia and the enlightenment ideals that were so instrumental in its inception. The gallery contains documents and historical artifacts from the Native Indian, Spanish, British Colonial, and American Revolutionary periods that complement and add dimension to the museum’s history exhibit panels.
The galleries also narrate the story of Georgia’s early history and the bold leadership that has helped them jointly grow into one of the most important destinations in the world. The exhibition features photographs and artifacts from twenty of Atlanta’s pioneering families, names such as Adair, Candler, Glenn, Herndon, Rich, Woodruff, and many others who have helped to shape our social, economic, political, and philanthropic landscape.
Georgia native Frank Hanna III rescued from probable destruction the 53 leaf Bodmer Papyri (now called the Hanna Papyri by the Vatican), which contains the oldest known written texts of the Gospels of Luke and John. Discovered near Egypt’s Valley of the Kings in the Nile River Valley, these papyri revolutionized our understanding of early Christian writings. They predate the Codex Vaticanus, the oldest known Bible, by up to 150 years, proving that the Gospels had been transcribed verbatim for much longer than previously known. The first page of the Gospel of John (right) contains the earliest known Lord’s Prayer. The Sally and Frank Hanna Foundation donated the documents to the Vatican Apostolic Library and Pope Benedict XVI in 2007.
Two leaves are on display at the Millennium Gate Museum where we have educated over a million visitors in nearly ten years. We showcase the Hanna Papyrus to set the stage for the Christian foundation of Georgia’s beginnings and her first Christian conversion of Toonahowie. His recitation in London of the Lord’s Prayer 1,634 years after it was written, was among the most important moments in Georgia history. Additionally, President Carter has loaned a 2000 year old textile used in the monastery where the Hanna papyri was recited in daily worship. These artifacts will move to the Cook Park Peace Column Museum.
December 8, 2017 – June 2, 2018
In early 2016, we began the process of verifying the provenance of a colonial portrait we thought may be among the first Governors of Georgia, Button Gwinnett, for William Fickling. While this alone was an exciting project, it was made even more important as this work is likely the only portrait done of the Governor while he was living in the United States. Gwinnett died in 1777, shortly after signing the Declaration of Independence, and because of this and the fact that he signed few documents, his signature sells at auction for hundreds of thousands of dollars. With the help of expert restorer, Rustin Levenson, her team at ArtCare, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, we thoroughly examined the identity of the person in the portrait, concluding that this likeness almost certainly depicts the true face of Governor Gwinnett. Our research has created excitement around the world about this work and our story of the research was just published in Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine. We have opened an exhibition focused on Governor Gwinnett and this restoration on December 8th, 2017 and will keep the exhibition open until June 2nd, 2018 . The exhibition will feature the now famous Fickling portrait as well as Governor Gwinnett’s bed from Saint Catherines Island and other late-18th and early-19th century Georgian furniture, recreating his bedroom from the Old Bosomworth Plantation. We are excited to present this exhibition alongside our permanent collection period room depicting the Midway, Georgia, study of fellow signer, Lyman Hall.
August 20, 2016 – January 2, 2017
In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Atlanta Centennial Olympic Games and in collaboration with Hearst Castle, California, the Michael C. Carlos Museum, and Oglethorpe University, The Games: Ancient Olympia to Atlanta to Rio will feature Ancient Greek artifacts, many of which exceed 2,500 years of age, which tell the history of the Olympic Games and Ancient Olympia, athletic competition, and Greek mythology and politics. We also examine the impact the modern Olympics had on the built environment of Atlanta, and will have on the next host city, Rio de Janeiro.
The Olympic Games were the oldest and most important games in ancient Greece. Nearly every Greek city had its own games, but none had the prestige of the Olympic Games. They were founded in 776 BC and held at Olympia in Western Greece. Managing the Olympic Games was prestigious, lucrative, and fought for by city-states near Olympia. Originally, the games were organized by Pisa, but from approximately 570 BC onwards, they were under the control of a larger city Elis, about 50 km (31 miles) north of Olympia. The games lasted for more than 1,000 years and came to their end in the early fifth century AD when the Roman Emperor Theodosius I thought them too pagan.
The modern Olympic Games began in 1896 in Athens, Greece, and quickly grew in size and importance. The Centennial Olympic Games, hosted by Atlanta, Georgia in 1996 had an enormous impact upon the built environment of the city. Buildings, parks, and transportation infrastructure were constructed, and the regional economy grew. When the eyes of the world fell on Atlanta in July 1996 the city was prepared and successfully showcased its arrival as an important international metropolis on the world stage. To this day, Olympic monuments still grace the city including Centennial Olympic Park, Turner Field, and the Prince of Wales’s World Athlete’s Monument owned by the National Monuments Foundation and Millennium Gate Museum.
July 31- October 18, 2015
“I think of myself as an educator, not an established artist. My mother once told me that, if you are a taker, you eat very well; but if you are a giver, you sleep very well. I sleep very well — like a baby.”
— I-Hsiung Ju
I-Hsiung Ju was born in 1923 in Jiangyin, Jiangsu, China. He is considered one of a few artists able to blend two worlds of style, technique, and idiom to produce a unique form of painting that is both modern and traditionally Oriental. Ju is famous for saying “a Chinese artist is not only a painter, but also a poet and a philosopher.” He is an author of several painting textbooks and numerous papers on Chinese art. During his life, he did what he loved, creating and teaching painting. A poet and philosopher, his paintings are lessons in living a fulfilled life and appreciation of the majesty of nature. Ju is revered in Taiwan and the Philippines and his works hang in their national museums. I-Hsiung died on March 17, 2012.
The works of I-Hsiung Ju show the refinements and delicate strokes of Chinese calligraphy. The brush strokes demand complete mastery since the artist’s ideas are portrayed immediately with a few strokes. Ju’s brush has a fascinating disciplined freedom; one can see its sure and firm movements accomplishing silk thread-thin lines to luxuriant swaths of ink, creating infinite variation of shapes, and producing different shades and tints in a single stroke.
August 2, 2014 – July 26, 2015
The Art of Diplomacy: Winston Churchill and the Pursuit of Painting displayed more than 30 paintings by Winston Churchill, many of which have never before been publicly exhibited, and examine the notion that painting may have helped save Western civilization. Although a hobby, Churchill wrote of the effect that it had on him personally and professionally.
At the beginning in 1915, painting literally pulled Churchill out of his darkest political days and set him on his journey towards his finest hour. It was painting, he said, that helped him cope with the stress and strain of his political life, and allowed him to be productive as he developed his thinking about the rising danger of Hitler and Germany.
In addition, Churchill found that the skills he learned from painting made his leadership more effective and he used his painter’s eye to achieve his political and diplomatic goals.
On March 28, 2014 Georgia commemorated the 40th anniversary of consular relations with the nation of Japan. To commemorate the event, the Millennium Gate Museum planted 40 Somei-Yoshino cherry trees around the park at the museum and hosted dozens of Japanese arts and culture organizations.
Official relations between Japan and Georgia were first inaugurated in 1973 with the establishment of a Georgia State Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism office in Tokyo under Governor Jimmy Carter. The opening of the Consulate General of Japan in Atlanta in 1974 offered a major boost in bilateral political relations. The cherry tree symbolizes friendship, the renewal of spring, and is the symbol of Japanese-American relations. Washington’s Tidal Basin is ringed with the tree as a gift of friendship from Japan in 1912.
WAVES: New Paintings by Peter Polites
Architects are often artists too. Hello Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Meier, Naguchi, Gaudi and John Portman to name a few. Atlanta architect Peter Polites has painted for 50 years. In a solo exhibition titled WAVES: New Paintings by Peter Polites, 20 ocean and marsh landscapes are presented, inspired by growing up in Savannah surrounded by classical old world beauty. Polites earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1972. He apprenticed with John Portman & Associates for four years then joined the staff of Cooper Carry for 10 years, both prominent architectural firms in Atlanta. In 1985 he founded Polites & Associates and has designed hundreds of homes, office buildings and interiors of luxury condos.
Transcending Vision: American Impressionism 1870–1940
Transcending Vision: American Impressionism 1870–1940 explores both the dissemination of Impressionism from its French roots into the American idiom and its reinterpretation of American landscape painting. The more than 50 important masterpieces in the exhibition, by a diverse group of artists such as Childe Hassam, Arthur Wesley Dow, Robert Spencer and others, trace not only the development of Impressionism in the United States but also the development of a truly American style of painting. Members of the first generation of American painters to absorb the technique, brighter palette, and subject matter of impressionism from their French counterparts. These artists, considered rebellious in their time, painted atmospheric landscapes, park, and beach scenes, urban views, and charming interiors, with particular interest in optical effects, light, and the different seasons.
Rob and Leon Krier Global Urban Visionaries
Rob and Leon Krier have influenced architecture and urbanism for the past 30 years. Born in Luxembourg, the brothers witnessed their hometown devastated by poor planning decisions and low-grade buildings. This lead them to study the root causes of non-contextual developments embracing the principles and techniques of traditional architecture and urbanism, thereby rescuing the landscape, town-scape and civic life of our nation from the failed experiment of a drive-in utopia. Leon Krier is considered by many the intellectual godfather of the New Urbanism movement in America.