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Historic Cottons to Modern Polyesters: Quilts from Telfair’s Collection (2016)

Made from the rarest silks to the simplest cottons, corduroys, wools, and modern polyesters, Telfair Museums’ small but important collection of quilts are presented in Historic Cottons to Modern Polyesters. Ranging from early 19th-century examples of pieced patchwork, to an appliqué story quilt made in the 1980s, the exhibition spans nearly two centuries of quiltmaking. This long, historical view allows the museum to highlight the larger story of artistic expression passed through generations of quiltmakers.

Cheers! (2015)

From tea pots to punch bowls, this exhibition explores the world of drinking through objects used for the consumption of tea, wine, coffee, punch, beer, cider, and chocolate. This unique display will give visitors a glimpse into our past drinking habits, using items from Telfair Museums’ permanent collection. Featuring practical articles, such as wine siphons, as well as elaborate decorative pieces, including an early nineteenth-century wine cart made from silver, the show highlights everyday objects once used for the ordinary practice of drinking. Beautiful, simple, and ornate decanters, tea caddies, mugs, cups, and saucers created with glass, silver, and porcelain in America, England, France, and China will present viewers with a broader understanding of drinking customs. 

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Silver from the Rizza Collection (2014)

This exhibition celebrated the recent donation of a major collection of American and English silver from Dr. Frank Rizza. Ranging in dates from the 18th to the 20th centuries, the collection includes a large variety of hollow and flat ware, including tea services, trays, coffee pots, epergne, toast rack, candlesticks, cruet set, tea and coffee urns, porringers, sauce boats, and many items included in their original cases, such as a 173-piece flatware service made by Tiffany and Company for the Kress family, which is housed within a custom-made cabinet. Other noteworthy items include a chocolate pot with cover by Samuel Kirk & Son of Baltimore, inscribed “M. Telfair to S.H.K.”, representing Telfair Museums founder Mary Telfair or her sister Margaret, and Sarah Hull Kollock, all of Savannah; a silver spoon by the famed American patriot and silversmith Paul Revere; and, an early 19th century solid silver epergne made by the English silversmith Matthew Boulton. In addition, a number of objects made in England by important silversmiths including Paul Storr, the Batemans, and Paul De Lamerie. 

Sitting in Savannah: Telfair Chairs and Sofas (2013)

This exhibition highlights Telfair Museums’ significant collection of seated forms. Originally from the collections of 19th-century Savannahians and other collectors, this exhibition will showcase chairs and sofas as both functional objects, as well as sculptural forms. The Telfair’s furniture collection represents one of the museum’s strongest holdings. Within this category, objects created for seating indicate a variety of tastes with origins of construction mostly in the Northeastern United States, especially New York and Philadelphia.

Mansion to Museum: The Story of the Telfair Academy (2013)

Mansion to Museum highlights the incredible story of the transformation of the Telfair Academy site from a home to an “Academy of Arts and Sciences.” The exhibit introduces visitors to Mary Telfair and the Telfair family, founding museum director Carl Brandt, the enslaved family who worked at the house, architects William Jay and Detlef Lienau, early artistic advisor Gari Melchers and others. Mansion to Museum serves as an orientation gallery for everyone who visits the museum. Original objects associated with the Telfair family and early museum development, including paintings, sculpture, furniture and architectural elements, provide a visual connection to the story. The exhibit also includes hands-on activities for children and adults.

New York Accent: The New York Influence on Telfair’s Decorative Arts Collection (2013)

New York held a particular fascination for Savannah and the Telfair family in the 19th century. Mary Telfair was educated in New York, and she and her family traveled there frequently to visit friends and participate in the New York social season. Much of their furniture and decorative arts collection was purchased in New York, as was the fashion among their Southern contemporaries, including the Richardson, Owens, Phillips, Scarbrough/Barnsley, and Hardee families. In addition to items owned by these Savannah families, the museum has received donations and purchased other 19th-century objects made in the state of New York. Combined, the Telfair’s holdings offer both a glimpse into Savannah’s past tastes, as well as a showing of furniture and furnishings created in one of the most important design centers of 19th-century America. Featured works will include tables, chairs, sofas, a sideboard, mirror, window seats, center table, and silver. Objects will be displayed both within the exhibition galleries, as well as identified throughout the period rooms in the Telfair Academy and the Owens-Thomas House.

Journey to the Beloved Community: Story Quilts by Beth Mount (2012)

The exhibition of large-scale story quilts included projects completed by the artist as well as those created collaboratively with members of the community. These compelling works offered a glimpse into the beauty of the “beloved community,” a phrase used by Dr. Martin Luther King to describe a place where the gifts and concerns of all people are woven together. The programs celebrated our capacity to engage and co-create, bringing together through art and expression all that has been torn apart, damaged, or unheard. 

Blown, Assembled and Cast: A Celebration of Contemporary Glass (2012)

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the American Studio Glass Movement, Telfair Museums presented an exhibition highlighting the diversity of contemporary glass. Featuring works from the museum’s permanent collection and from local collectors, this colorful, vibrant exhibit showcases a variety of techniques used to turn molten glass into stunning works of art.

Beyond Utility: Pottery Created by Enslaved Hands (2012)

Beyond Utility: Pottery Created by Enslaved Hands showcased remarkable pots made by enslaved people in the mid-19th century. Although crafted for utilitarian purposes, these jars, jugs and other vessels exemplify the work of experienced and talented artisans. Using a variety of forms and decoration, the featured objects demonstrate how largely unknown potters carefully shaped, molded, embellished, and, in the case of David Drake, also known as “Dave the Potter”, inscribed these containers. Whether built to hold grains or liquids, these receptacles incorporated appealing aesthetic elements within everyday functional items in the 19th century. Today, they provide a material link to a lesser-known part of American history, specifically the life and work of enslaved Africans.