Museum Strengths

Advancing American Art

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Advancing American Art

In 1946, the Office of International Information and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. State Department organized an exhibition of 117 oil paintings and watercolors that was designed to demonstrate the ascendancy of American art at the mid-century. Described as a cultural Marshall Plan, the paintings were exhibited at various venues in the United States and abroad. Soon after its initial exhibition, the show was criticized for its “modernity” by conservative politicians, disenfranchised artists and critics. The collection became the focus of intense criticism in Congress which condemned the State Department for its purchase of the collection and for presenting the work of “left-wing”artists whose abstract works, they felt, inadequately illustrated America’s ideals to the rest of the world.

Audubon Collection

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Louise Hauss and David Brent Miller Audubon Collection

At the time of his death, the drawings, paintings and engravings of John James Audubon were universally recognized as providing one of the earliest and most accurate records of American wildlife. Unfortunately, his gift for keen observation and near scientific rendering obscured the more artistic side of his work and subsequent generations viewed him as little more than a wildlife illustrator. Only recently, however, historians have initiated serious research into his oeuvre and now consider Audubon’s celebrated prints to be among the finest artistic achievements of the nineteenth century.

Composed of more than 100 of Audubon’s prints, Jule Collins Smith Museum of Art’s Louise Hauss and David Brent Miller Audubon Collection is a cornerstone of the museum’s holdings. The collection is particularly rich in Audubon’s most famous series—Birds of America. The collection was amassed by Mr. David Brent Miller during the first half of the twentieth century. Born in Century, Alabama, Miller spent much of his life in Brewton, Alabama, where he operated his family’s successful lumber operation, T. R. Miller Mill Company. He married Louise Hauss who, upon the death of her husband, continued to add to the collection. In 1992, the Millers’ granddaughter, Susan Phillips, made a gift of the Audubon collection to Auburn University to not only honor the contribution of her grandparents but to observe their wish that the Audubon collection remain in Alabama and be readily accessible to the state’s citizens. To accomplish this, Ms. Phillips provided Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art with funds for an endowment for the care, study and conservation of the collection, the funding for galleries, and the funds for the Louise Hauss and David Brent Miller Works on Paper Study Room where the collection is housed and available for study when not on exhibition.

Belleek Collection

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 Belleek Collection

Among the earliest gifts to the museum’s permanent collection is a large group of fine ceramics produced by the Belleek Pottery Works in Northern Ireland. Established in 1857, and still in operation today, Belleek is renowned internationally for its production of intricately patterned tableware, sculpture, and decorative objects. Executed in a type of porcelain known as parian china, the resulting white ceramic prior to glazing is said to resemble the marble quarried on the Greek island of Paros.

JCSM’s diverse collection, donated to the museum by Dwight and Helen Carlisle, numbers 330 pieces and includes examples from each historic period of Belleek’s production. Tthe collection includes a rare spider plate, woven baskets, vases, busts, tea sets, place settings and decorative objects.

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Upcoming Events

Sun 19

JCSM Highlight Tours

November 19 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Mon 20

Museum Cafe Closed

November 20 @ 11:00 am - November 24 @ 2:00 pm
Wed 22

Seasonal Hours: Museum Closed

November 22 @ 10:00 am - 4:30 pm