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A mother helps her child with an art project at left. A woman and her two children hold up their smArt boxes. At right a boy works on an art project during summer camp.

FY2021 Impact Report

October 1, 2021 | Mark Mills

Thank you for sustaining your art museum!

On May 31, we turned the page on the Museum’s fiscal year. Even with the extraordinary circumstances of the preceding twelve months, we nonetheless ended the year with a slight surplus. That makes twenty-eight straight years that the High has ended “in the black.”

There was nothing easy about FY21, and yet, our board and staff remained focused on our mission, impact, and sustainability at every step of the journey.

We could not have remained financially stable without the leadership and generosity of individuals like you. Philanthropy accounted for $8.3 million of operating support, representing 52% of our budget.

And so, before looking too far into FY22, I pause with immense gratitude to thank you for your ongoing faith in our mission and your steadfast financial support. I am pleased to share with you some of the many highlights of what your support made possible during this challenging year.

Thanks again, and I look forward to seeing you at the Museum soon and often.

Rand Suffolk
Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr., Director


In 2020–2021, every industry was challenged to rethink relevancy. The High had to shift to remain a relevant resource to parents, students, and teachers alike. Together, our team of art experts, videographers, web developers, and educators developed and launched a range of virtual programs through our Get Creative at Home initiative for families, students, teachers, and lifelong learners.

With traditional on-site school visits suspended indefinitely, our team quickly adapted to making our teaching resources and curriculum available through online presentations and virtual tours.

A benefit of moving to virtual offerings was the ease of partnering with organizations all over the state, including the Georgia Historical Society in Savannah. In addition, our virtual offerings provided increased accessibility for students and teachers who may live in rural counties or states (and even countries!) or who may not be able to attend a field trip at the High.

Our teacher professional development and field trip programs shifted to online. Thirteen virtual field trips as well as more than a dozen teacher resources, created by Georgia educators, were accessible through our website. We also produced supporting PowerPoint decks and lesson plans for our school tours and offered a regular Teacher’s Lounge program that included guided-looking exercises, art-making breaks, and the opportunity for educators to share their concerns and strategies for virtual learning within a community of practice.

Creativity and inspiration did not end when the pandemic began: students continued to express themselves through the visual arts. The first virtual student exhibition displayed almost 1,500 individual student artworks from Atlanta and beyond. Throughout the year, we held fifteen virtual student exhibitions displaying thousands of works of art.

Total Reach: 32,954 contacts

The team also led live virtual tours and in-person self-guided tours for our Academic Affiliates and partner organizations. More than 2,200 students enjoyed educational tours of our exhibitions and collections.


The High offers a variety of community-engagement opportunities each year for visitors to pursue cultural learning experiences. From gallery talks and Friday night entertainment to teen events and Musing Together, a program for adults living with memory loss, these programs engaged a broad range of attendees, from novice art admirers to lifelong learners to scholars. As we navigated through the pandemic, we continued to adapt and create new, safe on-site experiences in accordance with COVID-19 protocols while expanding our audience through a hybrid virtual model.

Virtual Talks, Lectures, and Conversation Pieces: 2,300 participants
Highlights included Dawoud Bey and Julie Mehretu participating in our Conversations with Contemporary Artists series, as well as a lecture with 2020 Driskell Prize winner Jamal Cyrus.

Left to right: Dawoud Bey, Julie Mehretu, and Jamal Cyrus

By the fall of 2020, we were able to resume many of our most popular programs on-site, often using our outdoor spaces for increased safety. We welcomed over 11,000 guests, who were grateful for a chance to return to normalcy and once again have art-filled experiences.

Toddler Thursdays: 1,770
HIGH Frequency Friday: 3,968
Friday Jazz: 4,726
Family Art Escapes: 407
Drawing from Experience: 127
Second Sundays: 9,853

On the second Sunday of each month, the High opens its doors to the community with free admission. We averaged nearly 1,000 guests each Second Sunday.

Summer Camp
Participants: 335
We kicked off the fiscal year with an eight-week, in-person summer camp unlike any we have hosted. Through careful planning and innovation, we fostered a safe and fun environment that allowed campers of all ages to spread out and take over the Museum while experiencing art.

“Our daughter will have spent 5 weeks at the High museum camp this summer. It was just what she needed to readjust to a new normal after being home alone for months. The camp was the best combination of fun learning and safe social interaction. The camp team created enough structure that we felt safe yet maintained enough flexibility that we felt supported during such a tough time.”

Creative Aging and Lifelong Learning
Participants: 1,143
Our Education team continued to develop its multifaceted suite of innovative programs and experiences that enable diverse older Atlantans to actively engage with art, explore their creative potential, and connect with others. Through programs such as Learning to Look and Inquiring Minds, older adults learned from museum experts and built their art historical knowledge in a supportive social environment. Programs such as Speaking of Art and Studio Sessions invited adults to tap into their creativity and make art with Atlanta-based artists and creatives.

Another major initiative we advanced in FY21 was our pioneering Musing Together program. In partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association Georgia Chapter and the Cognitive Empowerment Program at Emory Brain Health, Musing
Together provided social connection and learning opportunities for persons living with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease and their care partners.


Unique website visitors was visited by a global audience as people turned to online sources for art inspiration and activities. There was representation from all fifty states, and Great Britain, Canada, and Germany led among international visitors.

High blog views

YouTube video views

Total social media followers

The High has followers in forty-five countries, with Mexico, Great Britain, China, and Brazil leading among them.

Total social media engagements


Mary Cassatt (American, 1844–1926), Françoise, Holding a Little Dog, Looking Far to the Right, 1909, pastel on paper laid down on canvas, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Doris and Shouky Shaheen Collection, 2021.66.

Although our galleries were quieter than in years past, behind the scenes, we had a very busy year caring for the High’s heart and soul, our collection.

New Acquisitions

Throughout the year, we added 599 new works cumulatively valued at $10 million to the collection. Many of these acquisitions would not have been possible without the generosity of Museum friends committed to excellence in the visual arts for Atlanta.

Atlanta philanthropist Shouky Shaheen gifted works by Mary Cassatt and Pierre Bonnard to join other Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces in the Shaheen Collection. The addition of Cassatt’s work to the Shaheen gallery represents the first work by a female Impressionist to be included in the European galleries.

Collectors Harvie and Charles (“Chuck”) Abney made a substantial gift of forty-seven works by Southern self-taught artists. The paintings, sculptures, and drawings, which will be followed by twenty-six works to be bequeathed to the High, are by more than a dozen of the most widely celebrated self-taught artists, including Lonnie Holley, Howard Finster, Ronald Lockett, and Minnie Evans. The gift also includes one of the largest and finest private collections of work by Atlanta artist Nellie Mae Rowe, which will strengthen the Museum’s already unmatched holdings of her work.

The Museum was also the beneficiary of a bequest of fifty-three European artworks from the Irene and Howard Stein Collection. The gift features forty-one prints and posters and ten sculptures by artists including Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, and Martin Desjardins; a drawing by Degas; and an oil painting by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux.

“Each of the artworks in this gift are of unquestionable historical and artistic importance, and the artists represented are celebrated in collections around the world.”
—Claudia Einecke, Frances B. Bunzl Family Curator of European Art


Important conservation work continued in two notable areas of the collection. Thanks to a grant from The Sara Giles Moore Foundation, we finished the condition-assessment phase of our American Art holdings. In total, we surveyed 411 American paintings, drawings, and sculpture.

We also completed surveying seventeen Thornton Dial assemblages thanks to a grant from Bank of America. Conservation treatments will now begin on a select group of works that the curators and conservators identified as most in need of intervention.

We had eight other works of art treated or repaired in FY21, including a newly acquired quilt by Ruth Clement Bond and Thornton Dial’s sculpture Turkey Tower.


Although museum closures across the globe caused persistent challenges to the High’s exhibition schedule, we presented nine exhibitions that celebrated the excellence of our collections while reaching beyond limitations of the moment to present new and riveting material to the Southeast.

In keeping with our priorities, we showcased exhibitions representing a broad range of cultures, styles, and art forms.

These exhibitions along with the permanent collection galleries, which were regularly refreshed with new works, were enjoyed by 107,549 visitors.

Ragnar Kjartansson: The Visitors
March 6–May 9, 2021

Underexposed: Women Photographers from the Collection
April 17–August 1, 2021

Our Good Earth: Rural Life and American Art
April 17–August 1, 2021

Murmuration by SO-IL
July 17–November 29, 2020

Picture the Dream: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement through Children’s Books
August 15–November 8, 2020

Julie Mehretu
October 24, 2020–January 31, 2021

Dawoud Bey: An American Project
November 7, 2020–March 14, 2021

Bestowing Beauty: Masterpieces from Persian Lands
December 12, 2020–April 18, 2021

David Driskell: Icons of Nature and History
February 6–May 9, 2021

The High enjoyed noteworthy coverage of its exhibitions, recent acquisitions, and other major initiatives by hundreds of media outlets ranging from The New York Times and NPR to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Atlanta magazine, reaching millions of people worldwide.