The High Museum of Art (coloquially the High), located in Atlanta, is the leading art museum in the Southeastern United States and one of the most-visited art museums in the world. Located on Peachtree Street in Midtown, the city's arts district, the High is a division of the Woodruff Arts Center.
The Museum was founded in 1905 as the Atlanta Art Association. In 1926, the High family, for whom the museum is named, donated their family home on Peachtree Street to house the collection following a series of exhibitions involving the Grand Central Art Galleries organized by Atlanta collector J. J. Haverty. Many pieces from the Haverty collection are now on permanent display in the High. A separate building for the Museum was built adjacent to the family home in 1955. On June 3, 1962, 106 Atlanta arts patrons died in an airplane crash at Orly Airport in Paris, France, while on a museum-sponsored trip. Including crew and other passengers, 130 people were killed in what was, at the time, the worst single plane aviation disaster in history. Members of Atlanta's prominent families were lost including members of the Berry family who founded Berry College. During their visit to Paris, the Atlanta arts patrons had seen Whistler's Mother at the Louvre. In the fall of 1962, the Louvre, as a gesture of good will to the people of Atlanta, sent Whistler's Mother to Atlanta to be exhibited at the Atlanta Art Association museum on Peachtree Street.
To honor those killed in the June 3, 1962 crash, the Atlanta Memorial Arts Center was built for the High. The French government donated a Rodin sculpture "The Shade" to the High in memory of the victims of the crash. In 1983, a 135,000-square-foot (12,500 m2) building designed by Pritzker Prize winning architect Richard Meier opened to house the High Museum of Art. The Meier building was funded by a $7.9 million challenge grant from former Coca-Cola president Robert W. Woodruff matched by $20 million raised by the Museum. In 2002, three new buildings designed by Renzo Piano more than doubled the Museum's size to 312,000 square feet (29,000 m2). The Piano buildings were designed as part of an overall upgrade of the entire Woodruff Arts Center complex. In 2008, the Museum inked an US$18 million deal for a three-year revolving loan of art from the Musée du Louvre in Paris, resulting in the museum’s highest attendance ever. Its most popular individual show was 2009's Louvre Atlanta: the Louvre and the Masterpiece. Negotiations are also taking place with Metropolitan Museum of Art for possible major loans. The Museum is also a Smithsonian Institution Affilliate.
The High Museum holds more than 11,000 works of art in its permanent collection. Included in this collection are 19th and 20th century American art; European art; decorative arts; modern and contemporary art and photography. Highlights of the permanent collection include works by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Claude Monet, Martin Johnson Heade, Dorothea Lange, Clarence John Laughlin, and Chuck Close.