The Old Governor’s Mansion at Georgia College has been named a Smithsonian affiliate, becoming the ninth in the state and the first in central Georgia to receive this recognition.
University and Smithsonian officials made the announcement and celebrated the new affiliation Friday, Jan. 9. at the Old Governor’s Mansion.
“We are delighted to welcome the Old Governor’s Mansion into the Smithsonian Affiliations program. The museum is not only a singular example of Greek Revival architecture, but it is also the place where all Americans can relive a long stretch of our nation’s history,” said Harold Closter, director of Smithsonian Affiliations. “The Smithsonian looks forward to working in collaboration with the expert staff of the Old Governor’s Mansion and the faculty and students of Georgia College to help visitors and learners gain further insight from the stories and lessons so diligently preserved here.”
The Old Governor’s Mansion will be part of a select group of museums, cultural, educational and arts organizations that share the Smithsonian's resources with the nation.
“The opportunity to be an affiliate of the Smithsonian is a great honor for the Old Governor's Mansion and Georgia College,” said Director Matt Davis. “We look forward to building partnerships for exhibitions, loans and the development of programming. This partnership will be a huge benefit to the Mansion as we continue to build our national profile within the museum field."
Smithsonian Affiliations, established in 1996, is designed to facilitate a two-way relationship among Smithsonian Affiliates and the Smithsonian to increase discovery and inspire lifelong learning in communities across America. The program establishes long-term relationships with museums and education and cultural organizations to facilitate the loan of Smithsonian artifacts and traveling exhibitions, as well as develop innovative educational collaborations locally and nationally.
There are more than 190 Smithsonian Affiliates in more than 40 states, Puerto Rico and Panama. Affiliates represent the diversity of America’s museum community—size, location and subject—and serve all audiences. More than 8,000 Smithsonian artifacts have been displayed at affiliate locations.
The Old Governor's Mansion is one of the finest examples of High Greek Revival architecture in the nation. Serving as the residence for Georgia's chief executives for more than 30 years, the Mansion's history encompasses the antebellum, Civil War and early Reconstruction phases of the state's history. Such noted state leaders as George Crawford, Howell Cobb and Joseph E. Brown resided in the building and used it as a stage for speeches and also to introduce guests of national standing.
During the Civil War, the Mansion was claimed as a "prize" in the March to the Sea, when Gen. William T. Sherman headquartered in the building in 1864. Following the war, Georgia's seat of government was relocated to Atlanta, and the Mansion was abandoned. Given over to Georgia Normal & Industrial College (currently known as Georgia College) in 1889, the Mansion served as the founding building of the institution and is the campus's most treasured structure.
Beginning in the late 1990s, an initiative was begun to return the Mansion to its antebellum splendor. Following five years of intensive historical, structural and material research, the Old Governor's Mansion began its long awaited historic restoration in November of 2001.
The Old Governor's Mansion now serves as a historic house museum whose mission is to care for, collect, interpret and exhibit items (including artifacts, structures and gardens) that illustrate the history of the site and its inhabitants during the years the Mansion was the official residence of Georgia’s governors (1839-1868) in order to make these objects available to the public for educational benefit. The Old Governor's Mansion was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1973 and was accredited by the American Alliance of Museums in 2012.