The Telfair Museums

Founded in 1883, as a gift to the Georgia Historical Society, the Telfair Museum is the oldest public art museum in the South. Mary Telfair, a prominent Savannah philanthropist, left her house and its furnishings specifically to be used as a museum. The Telfair Museum started out with just Mary Telfair’s house, but over the years has added two other locations: The historic Owens Thomas House & Slave Quarters and the Jepson Center. Each location houses unique collections and viewing experiences.

Telfair Academy

This beautiful Neo-Classical Regency style residence was built in 1818-1819. The home was designed by William Jay, for Alexander Telfair who was the son of Georgia Governor Edward Telfair. William Jay is one of the best architects of the Regency style and is one of the first professionally-trained architects to work in America.

The Telfair Academy is home to 19th century period rooms and 19th and 20th century American and European art. The Rotunda Gallery and Sculpture Gallery are just two of the amazing galleries in this museum to visit.

Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters

Also designed by William Jay, this house is considered to be one of the finest English Regency style buildings in America. Construction on the house was completed in 1819. The museum includes the main house, a parterre garden and the original slave quarters. A National Historic Landmark, it was the first house museum in Savannah, and the only intact urban slave quarters open to the public.

This house museum offers guided tours of rooms filled with period furniture and accessories. Learn how inhabitants of the house (free and enslaved) lived and worked in the 19th century. The recently renovated carriage house is now the Orientation Gallery and interactive exhibits on slavery. Originally half of this building housed the horses and carriages on the ground floor with a hay loft above, with the second half housing the slaves’ quarters. Between the main house and the carriage house is a wonderful parterre style garden.

Jepson Center

Designed by another famous architect – internationally known Moshe Sofdie – the Jepson opened to the public in 2006. This modern building houses contemporary art with a focus on architecture and public art and promotes educational experiences. Each exhibit opens with a lecture or event open to the public. And there are plenty of educational opportunities too – their schedule of classes lasts year-round.

The ArtZeaum is an interactive space designed to challenge kids to expand their horizons and creative side. The museum has also created a gallery dedicated to digital art – TechSpace – an interactive technology-based exhibit that explores the ever-changing line between visual art and computers. The annual PULSE Festival offers innovative new media works.


The three locations of the Telfair Museum are located quite near each other, well within walking distance. In fact, the Jepson and the Telfair both face Telfair Square. And, the Owens Thomas House & Slave Quarters is just a few blocks east of Telfair Square, on Oglethorpe Square. For their exact locations, hours of operation, visit the Telfair Museum website. Both of these locales are also located close to Southern Belle’s Savannah vacation rentals; contact us today to book your stay!

Posted January 3, 2019 | Author : | Category : Savannah Attractions