Atlanta is not only a transportation and commercial hub of the Southeast: It also has a booming arts scene, with plenty of live music venues, theatres, museums, and of course, art galleries. From the massive 15,000-work collection at the Woodruff Arts Center's High Museum of Art to more intimate, contemporary neighborhood spaces, here are the best art galleries and museums to check out in Atlanta.
The Southeast's leading art museum, the High Museum of Art is located on the Woodruff Arts Center Campus in Midtown. The 15,000 works in its permanent collection range from 19th and 20th-century decorative art to interactive, colorful, and contemporary outdoor exhibits.
Pro tip: Visit on the second Sunday of each month between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m., when admission is free, and the entire family can tour the space and enjoy art activities and live performances for free. While there are two parking decks and street parking, the Arts Center MARTA station on the red and gold lines drops you off right across the street from the museum.
Located near Georgia Tech University in West Midtown, this contemporary gallery was initially founded as a grassroots artists’ co-op and is dedicated to both emerging and established visual artists. One of the only local organizations to commission new works—particularly from newer artists in the Southeast—the Center hosts six to 10 exhibits annually. The space, which is open six days a week (it's closed Monday), has free parking and admission as well as artist workspaces, children's programming, and educational talks.
For contemporary art with a dash of whimsy and charm, visit this historic carriage house turned modern art gallery in historic Inman Park. Located behind the sprawling Victorian residence of its founder and curator, Susan Bridges, Whitespace feels more like visiting a private home collection than a formal gallery space. Expect contemporary art like sculptures, photography, and video installations from both local and international artists. Don't miss the space's elaborate parties, often featuring drag queens, fancy libations, and live music.
Housed in a quaint Buckhead home, Jackson Fine Art gallery was founded by collector Jane Jackson in 1991. Now led by Anna Walker Skillman (formerly of San Francisco's Haines Gallery), the space specializes in 20th century and contemporary fine art photography. With two exhibition spaces and rotating exhibits every 10 weeks, the gallery's permanent collection includes work from Ansel Adams, Eudora Welty, and other notable American artists. The gallery also participates in several international art fairs like The Photography Show (AIPAD) in New York, Art Miami, and Paris Photo. The hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.
Founded in 2000, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia is the city's most extensive gallery dedicated to contemporary artists from the state of Georgia. Tucked away in the heart of Buckhead, MOCA includes a permanent collection with 250 works in mixed media, print, photography, and more from over 100 native Peach State artists like Harry Callahan. The upper-level gallery hosts rotating solo and group exhibitions, and the space has an extensive art library and archival collections as well. Sign up for the hour-long docent-led tour, which is offered Tuesday through Friday between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. (or upon request). It costs $8 for adults, $5 for youth and students, and is free for teachers and chaperones.
The Southeast's most extensive African American-owned fine art gallery, ZuCot is located in the historic and eclectic Castleberry Hill district neighborhood. Founded by former Fortune 500 executive Troy Taylor in 2008, the 3,500-square-foot space includes works from his personal collection as well as rotating exhibits featuring both local and internationally-renowned artists. You can also find video installations, short films, and informal discussions dedicated to appreciating and collecting fine art.
Don't miss this contemporary gallery located in Armour Junction near Sweetwater Brewing Company, one of the city's best breweries. With three large exhibition spaces, Mason Fine Art rotates works from regional, national, and international artists as well as students at nearby Savannah College of Art and Design, Spelman and Morehouse Colleges, and the University of Georgia. Hours are Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Frequently voted the best art gallery in the city, Kai Lin Art is dedicated to contemporary art from emerging and established artists both in the Southeast and beyond. Exhibits rotate every six to eight weeks; the gallery is open Wednesday through Friday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.