About the Museum

The SCAD Museum of Art serves students and visitors alike as a teaching museum with twin goals of enriching the high caliber of education SCAD provides its students and reaching out to the Savannah community and beyond.

The museum and SCAD

The SCAD Museum of Art is a premier contemporary art museum that features emerging and established international artists through commissioned works and rotating exhibitions; engages local communities with special initiatives of an international scope; and serves as a resource for SCAD students and alumni during their academic careers and beyond.

The museum has presented exhibitions by artists including Jane Alexander, Radcliffe Bailey, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Subodh Gupta, Alfredo Jaar, Sigalit Landau, Liza Lou, Ebony G. Patterson, Robin Rhode, Bill Viola, Carrie Mae Weems, Kehinde Wiley and Fred Wilson, as well as site-specific installations by Daniel Arsham, Kendall Buster, Jose Dávila, Michael Joo, Odili Donald Odita and others. The museum's permanent collection includes the Walter O. Evans Collection of African American Art, the Modern and Contemporary Art Collection, the Earle W. Newton Collection of British and American Art, the 19th- and 20th-century Photography Collection and the SCAD Costume Collection.

An award-winning, architectural icon, the museum incorporates the oldest surviving antebellum railroad depot in the U.S. into its striking design. Nestled in the heart of Savannah's vibrant historic downtown district, the museum attracts visitors from around the globe. It has been recognized by the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, the Congress for the New Urbanism, the International Interior Design Association and the Historic Savannah Foundation and received the American Institute of Architects Honor Award for Architecture, a pinnacle achievement.


The landmark rehabilitation of the SCAD Museum of Art, the largest project of its kind in SCAD history, has advanced the university's award-winning legacy of adaptive reuse and urban revitalization. The $26 million expansion added 65,000 square feet to the former museum facility and the building now features many notable design elements including a prominent entrance marked by an 86-foot-high steel and glass lantern; a contradistinctive façade uniting original 19th-century Savannah gray brick with modern composite materials; a manicured courtyard and streetscape; outdoor lecture and performance spaces; and an events terrace and adjoining atrium. Inside, the expansion allows the museum to present engaging exhibitions and installations from renowned and emerging artists, as well as showcase works from the university's diverse permanent collection. Much of the museum's expansion has focused on art stewardship, as evidenced by dedicated areas for shipment, quarantine, framing and de-framing, and curatorial supply storage.

Museum awards

Since opening its doors in October 2011, the renovated museum has been celebrated for its inspired architecture and design, world-class exhibitions and visionary community outreach and education programs that enrich art enthusiasts, educators and students of all ages.

SCAD is proud to be recognized by the following:


  • AIA Institute Honor Award for Architecture
  • Congress for the New Urbanism, Charter Award
  • International Interior Design Association (IIDA)-Georgia chapter
  • Best of the Best Forum Design Award and Best of the Best Forum Award (education category)
  • American Concrete Institute-Georgia chapter First Place in Restoration Category
  • American Institute of Architects-Savannah chapter Honor Award (top honor awarded)
  • AIA South Atlantic Region, Design Award
  • Historic Savannah Foundation, Preservation Award
  • Southeastern Museums Conference Publication Competition Gold Award for the SCAD Museum of Art Curriculum Guide
  • Southeastern Museums Conference Exhibition Competition Certificate of Commendation for the outstanding exhibit "Pose/Re-pose: Figurative Works Then and Now"

Museum dimensions

  • Total complex space:

  • Academic space:

  • 10 classrooms and two study suites

  • 250-seat theater

  • Gallery space:

  • Outdoor space:

  • 82,118 square feet

  • 11,481 square feet

  • 7,799 square feet

  • 3,298 square feet

  • 19,943 square feet

  • 232,050 square feet (total)

Interior/exterior building plan

  • Main entrance and lobby atrium
  • The Walter O. Evans Center for African American Studies
  • The André Leon Talley Gallery
  • Four temporary exhibition galleries including the 290-foot long Pamela Elaine Poetter Gallery
  • 250-seat theater
  • TAD café and museum shop
  • Main stairway to second floor and elevator
  • Ten classrooms
  • Two art study suites
  • Art storage studio
  • Outdoor event terrace with courtyard views
  • Theater mezzanine
  • Alex Townsend Grand Courtyard
  • Matthew Mascotte Theater Plaza
  • Outdoor lecture and performance space
  • Outdoor exhibition space
  • Event terrace and adjoining atrium

About the building

The SCAD Museum of Art is a radiant example of the university's legacy of innovative building adaptation and reuse. Since 1978, SCAD has revitalized more than 100 structures in Savannah and Atlanta, Georgia; Lacoste, France; and Hong Kong.

The SCAD Museum of Art is housed in an 1853 brick structure that was once a railway depot for the Central of Georgia Railway. This National Historic Landmark is the only surviving antebellum railroad complex in the country. The museum has breathed life into these ruins, which once extended more than 800 feet along Turner Boulevard's southern frontage. Originally conceived as a major trade post for Savannah, the railroad complex was occupied by Union troops at the close of the Civil War. In the early 20th century, the area surrounding much of the Central of Georgia Railroad buildings emerged as an important African American commercial district and cultural hub, and remained so through the mid 20th century. Despite its prime location and significant pedigree, the complex was beset by five decades of neglect and by the late 20th century, the depot and its precious Savannah gray brick lay in ruins. Yet, a wealth of natural beauty and possibility remained, sparking SCAD's commitment to its students and to the Savannah community at large.

Following a groundbreaking ceremony in January 2010, SCAD architects, designers and craftsmen integrated the building's history with its bright new future, analyzing and reproducing key original components down to the chemical compounds in the 19th-century mortar. The ethos of the rehabilitated SCAD Museum of Art is best articulated by its glittering atrium, an 86-foot-high steel and glass lantern featuring the first beacon that welcomes visitors and elegantly redefines the Savannah city skyline.

Visitors to the museum encounter a 12-foot-long horizontal touch pad in the building's atrium. The interactive table delivers images and comprehensive information about the museum's artists, exhibitions and events, and accommodates up to 40 users at one time.

Wherever possible, museum designers and architects used sustainable, renewable materials and employed the very best in energy-saving technologies. At present, the museum is outfitted with low-energy-consuming light fixtures, zoned climate control, exterior cooling towers, low-flow plumbing fixtures for water-use reduction and low-emissivity (low-E) glass on the south elevation. Landscape planning for the courtyard made use of xeriscape planning, porous paving materials and custom irrigation plans.

Salvaged bricks and original heart pine timbers appear throughout the museum, and the original high ceilings, most of which were kept, allow for optimal temperature regulation and provide a dramatic background for the display and experience of art.

William and Ellen Craft

As part of SCAD deFINE ART 2016, the Savannah College of Art and Design honored two important figures in American history. In celebration of William and Ellen Craft and their daring escape from slavery, the university commissioned and installed a commemorative bronze medallion — designed by SCAD alumnus and foundation studies professor Andrew MacDonald (M.F.A. illustration) — in the lobby of the SCAD Museum of Art.

In 1848 the Crafts, an enslaved African-American couple, escaped from their masters in Macon, Georgia, to embark on a perilous four-day journey to the Northern free states. To make their escape, they devised a plan for fair-skinned Ellen to pose as a deaf, white male slave owner and William as her attendant slave. Upon completing the first stage of their journey, the Crafts arrived in Savannah, passing through the Central of Georgia Railway depot — the very place where the SCAD Museum of Art stands today.

Safe passage through Savannah was the first divination of their successful journey, one that would ultimately land them in England in search of refuge. Nineteen years later, after the conclusion of the Civil War, the Crafts returned to nearby Bryan County, Georgia, and founded the Woodville Co-operative Farm School, established to educate newly freed slaves and help them secure employment. "The story of William and Ellen Craft is one of incredible triumph in which two people, uplifted by their enduring love and commitment to each other, found the strength to defy the limitations life put on them and pursue their inherent right to freedom," explains SCAD President and Founder Paula Wallace.

Dr. Walter O. Evans, a member of the SCAD Board of Visitors and benefactor of the SCAD Museum of Art's Walter O. Evans Collection of African American Art, originally shared the story of the Crafts with Wallace during the SCAD Museum of Art's expansion in 2011. Dr. Evans added, "This acknowledgment by SCAD — recognizing the passage of the Crafts through this place that today stands as an educational and cultural junction of the highest order — is a perfect illustration of how SCAD rises to every occasion, taking care to celebrate narratives both well known and lesser known so that we all might share in the universality of the human experience."

The permanent collection

SCAD maintains a permanent collection of more than 4,500 artworks, many of which appear on rotation at the museum. The SCAD permanent collection includes:

  • Walter O. Evans Collection of African American Art, one of the most significant collections of African American art, spanning more than 150 years and featuring prized works by Bannister, Duncanson, Bearden, Hunt and many more;
  • Earle W. Newton Collection, consisting of rare books, antique maps, paintings and work by Hogarth, Van Dyck, Gainsborough, Reynolds and Romney;
  • Haute couture from Yves Saint Laurent, Oscar de la Renta and Givenchy, among others;
  • Modern and contemporary works by Salvador Dalí, Nicholas Hlobo, Annie Leibovitz, Robert Mapplethorpe, Wangechi Mutu, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Carrie Mae Weems and more.

A living laboratory

Classrooms at the SCAD Museum of Art host 72 classes each week. Class disciplines include art history, museum studies, graphic design, fashion, production design and many more. Purpose-built to support the academic and creative programs at SCAD, the museum's theater hosts a monthly schedule of film screenings, academic lectures and master classes with visiting artists and creative professionals.

Museum leadership

  • Paula Wallace, SCAD president and co-founder
  • Glenn Wallace, SCAD senior vice president for university resources
  • Design architect: Christian Sottile, AIA, Sottile & Sottile, Savannah, Georgia (SCAD M.Arch., 1997)
  • Architect of record: Joe Greco, AIA, Lord Aeck & Sargent, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Associate architect: Neil Dawson, AIA, Dawson Architects, Savannah, Georgia