The Savannah College of Art and Design held a historic groundbreaking ceremony for the SCAD Museum of Art complex, which will include the future home of the Walter O. Evans Center for African American Studies housing one of the finest collections of African- American art in the United States, as well as other significant museum collections in new galleries and academ- ic spaces. The groundbreaking took place Thursday, Jan. 21.
The Walter O. Evans Center for African American Studies, the heart of the museum complex, is named for Savannah native and nationally renowned art collector Dr. Walter O. Evans.
Listed frequently among America’s top 100 collectors by Art and Antiques magazine, Evans assembled a legacy collection that spans 150 years of African-American art—from 19th-century landscape paintings of the Hudson River School to works by masters of the Harlem Renaissance, as well as folk art, examples from the Federal Art Project of the 1930s, and later 20thcentury works by Lawrence and Bearden among others. In December 2005, Evans donated a significant collection of African-American art to SCAD, and the gift has created an invaluable resource for the university, the region and the nation.
The Evans Center will provide a permanent home for the Evans Collection as well as an interdisciplinary facility devoted to the study of African- American art, literature and culture that will include classrooms, exhibition space, event space and a theater. The center also will also create the opportunity for SCAD to develop more educational programs and relationships with public and private schools in Savannah and the Southeast.
“My wife Linda and I wanted the collection to stay in our hometown,” said Evans. “However, selecting SCAD as the recipient was more than a matter of location. The partnership with the university will ensure that people of all ages and diverse social and ethnic backgrounds will have an opportunity to view and learn from the collection for many years to come. Linda and I hope that through this new Center for African American Studies, visitors will recognize the importance of preserving our cultural heritage and of providing a legacy for those who come after us.”