The University of Georgia broke ground on a trio of projects Aug. 23 at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia.
The projects—the Center for Art and Nature Porcelain and Decorative Arts Museum, the Discovery and Inspiration Garden, and a new entrance—will allow visitors to explore the relationship between art and nature and increase accessibility to garden exhibits and facilities. They will be constructed simultaneously, with completion anticipated in 2020.
“None of this would have been possible without the generosity of many people,” UGA President Jere W. Morehead said during the groundbreaking ceremony. “I would like to express my sincere appreciation to all of the donors whose gifts are bringing these projects to life—those who are with us today and those who are celebrating with us from afar.”
The Center for Art and Nature Porcelain and Decorative Arts Museum will house significant holdings from the Deen Day Sanders collection, with an extensive concentration in porcelain. This state-of-the-art facility will be the first of its kind to integrate decorative art within a garden setting and nature through the quality, diversity and evolution of porcelain and other decorative artifacts.
The center will have permanent galleries, visiting exhibitions and classroom space.
“We want to make it an educational, unique experience. I can’t think of another garden where they use ceramics and porcelain in this way,” said Sanders, a longtime supporter of the garden. “The University of Georgia has a decorative arch, landscape design, and it has many, many ways to draw the information that you need to put together these displays. I think it will all work together.”
Surrounding the Center for Art and Nature will be the Discovery and Inspiration Garden with narrow plant beds at eye level for every age so that visitors can get an up-close look at native plants for pollinators. A pond will support the life cycles of frogs and dragonflies, along with other creatures. Classes will be held on a great lawn, which also will serve as a venue for special events.
The entrance and accessibility project will be the main gateway to the garden from the parking lots above. The C. Burke Day Jr. Memorial Walkway, funded in part by members of the Garden Club of Georgia Inc., will lead to an overlook that provides a glimpse of the new Center for Art and Nature, the Alice Hand Callaway Visitor Center & Conservatory, and the Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden. Visitors will travel across an elevated walkway to an elevator or to stairs descending to the visitor center plaza.
Chuck and Suzanne Murphy provided funding for the Discovery and Inspiration Garden.
Deen Day Sanders, the Callaway Foundation, Mike and Betty DeVore, Tom Wight, Jim Miller, and the Garden Club of Georgia Inc. contributed to the entrance and accessibility project.
“Together, we are continuing the legacy of those who first envisioned this garden, and we are weaving new, innovative ideas into our mission,” said Jenny Cruse-Sanders, director of the State Botanical Garden, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach. “Building these projects together allows us to be conscientious stewards of the site and donated funds, and reduce disruption during construction.”