Arts & Humanities Campus News

Georgia Museum of Art receives awards for patron and exhibition

GAM award committee co-chairs Melissa Swindell and Karin Dalton, Georgia Museum of Art director William Eiland and GAM president Marcy Breffle with the award for Exhibition Category #3 ($25,001 – $99,999) for “Reckonings and Reconstructions: Southern Photography from the Do Good Fund.” (Submitted photo)

The Georgia Museum of Art received two awards at this year’s Georgia Association of Museums (GAM) annual conference, held in Cartersville.

GAM President Marcy Breffle and award committee co-chairs Melissa Swindell and Karin Dalton presented the museum with the awards for Patron of the Year (to Alan Rothschild Jr.) and Exhibition Category #3 ($25,001 – $99,999) for “Reckonings and Reconstructions: Southern Photography from the Do Good Fund.”

Rothschild has been a leading force in the arts as the founder of the Do Good Fund, a public charity in Columbus, whose focus has built a museum-quality collection of southern photography from the 1950s to the present that reflects a visual narrative of the American South. Over the past 11 years, the fund has grown significantly, delivering its collection all over the state. “Reckonings and Reconstructions” is the first large-scale survey of the collection and will travel to Columbus, St. Louis, Iowa and Florida.

Rothschild has been a long-time friend and supporter of the Georgia Museum of Art and the University of Georgia. He has served on the museum’s Board of Advisors since 2008, including a two-year stint as its chair. His focus on the whole state and his deep-rooted interest in tying art to the humanities and to historical contexts notably made him deserving of this award. He said, “Art for art’s sake is wonderful, but it is the beauty [of the story] behind the art that helps me understand art.”

“We are very pleased to present this award to a very deserving recipient,” said Breffle. “Our members represent a good cross section of museums and cultural organizations in Georgia’s communities, large and small. We are happy to honor institutions, staff members, volunteers, patrons, exhibits and special projects that have excelled in providing inspiring programs and leadership.”

In building the Do Good Fund’s collection, Rothschild has considered the distinctive yet evolving character of the South. He has prioritized diversifying the range of its artists, incorporating works by Black, Latino/Hispanic and Asian artists as well as emerging photographers from across the region. The exhibition, which was on view at the Georgia Museum of Art from Oct. 8, 2022, through Jan. 8, 2023, explores varied themes through the medium of photography. It considers histories of protest, resistance, and activism in southern photography; community building in the face of historical trauma and the promise of community-based photography; and reconstruction as restoration, particularly concerning the southern landscape and southern foodways.

GAM is a private, nonprofit statewide organization dedicated to encouraging growth and improving professional practices of museums and nonprofit galleries throughout the state. The annual conference is an opportunity for museum professionals, board members, volunteers and supporters to share information and build relationships among museums and galleries throughout the state. The conference is hosted by a different community each year and will be held in Athens in 2024.