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Georgia Museum of Agriculture Gallery Wins Two Statewide Awards

February 2, 2017

Recognized locally as a fascinating place with timely exhibits on a regular basis, the Gallery at the Georgia Museum of Agriculture and Historic Village at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College has been honored with two statewide awards by the Georgia Association for Museums and Galleries.

Polly Huff, assistant director and curator at the Museum, said the Gallery received the Top Museum/Gallery institution in the state award and the Top Special Project award at the recent meeting of the GAMG in Augusta.  She said the GAMG awards selection committee was quite effusive in its praise of the work going on at the Gallery in Tifton.

“The GMA Gallery has become a leading institution in Georgia with a record of accomplishments and is acting as an important cultural resource in the community,” according to comments from the selection committee.  “The Gallery has taken an active role in promoting communication and cooperation among other Georgia museums and galleries and has provided on-site outreach programs which have extended the GMA’s mission while educating student and adult audiences.”

Huff said the Gallery’s honors came in recognition of over 30 significant exhibits and numerous local and regional partnerships as well as dozens of outreach events which have been hosted in the Gallery since its inception in 2010.

One of those exhibits was an unprecedented partnership in the spring of 2016 between the Gallery, the ABAC School of Liberal Arts, the ABAC School of Nursing and Health Sciences, the Tift Regional Heart and Vascular Center, and a private art collector.  Honored by the GAMC as the Top Special Project of 2016, that collaboration resulted in the Heart to Heart event which educated the community about heart disease while showcasing an exhibit of art inspired by the miracle of medicine, all while giving a springboard to over a dozen college art students into the world of juried shows and gallery exhibits.

“The Heart to Heart event presented by the GMA Gallery followed a multi-prong design,” Huff, who coordinates activities at the Gallery, said.  “It featured a gallery exhibit spotlighting a collection of Georgia Master Lamar Dodd’s Heart Series, six of which belong to Gallery patron and ABAC alumnus C.L. Morehead, Jr., of Athens.

“Mr. Morehead is a renowned collector who owns over 800 of Dodd’s works. A juried exhibit of work inspired by medical events and created by students in ABAC’s Painting, Drawing, and 2-D Design classes was showcased with the wonderful paintings by Lamar Dodd.”

In conjunction with the contest, Huff visited all the college art classes at ABAC and gave lectures on Dodd and his Heart Series.  She also shared with the students the intricacies of entering a juried art show and a gallery exhibit. Additionally, the Tift Regional Heart and Vascular Center hosted a sold-out heart-healthy supper and a cooking demonstration featuring well-known local cardiologist Jonathan Tronolone, who is also a terrific and entertaining chef.

Tift Regional Medical Center also hosted a hands-on children’s corner in the exhibit where young visitors could try constructing a heart or pumping “blood” through a heart model. In that corner, the youngest visitors to the exhibit engaged in several learning activities focused on art, heart health, and nutrition.

The last part of the partnership involved the ABAC School of Nursing and Health Sciences, which utilized the exhibit’s opening to showcase the skills of over a dozen nurses-in-training and provided to the public several free screenings and advice on heart-healthy nutrition and exercise.

The Heart exhibit opened to the public on Valentine’s Day 2016 with a lecture on Dodd and the Heart Series by Dr. William Eiland, Georgia Museum of Art Director.  GAMG praised the project, calling it “a special project of note which demonstrated scholarship and originality.  It was an example in excellence in planning, effectively reached and broadened the gallery’s audience, and contributed to the cultural fabric of the state.”

Huff was one of the presenters in two statewide roundtable workshops at the conference, which was attended by more than 120 museum and gallery professionals from across the state.
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