Jemison-Carnegie Heritage Hall Museum

Jemison-Carnegie Heritage Hall Museum The Jemison-Carnegie Heritage Hall Museum in Talladega, Talladega County, is an art museum and historical archive whose dual mission is to provide education in and enjoyment of the arts to the greater Talladega community and to promote, celebrate, and understand Talladega history. Since 1983, the museum has been administered by the Talladega Heritage Commission and funded by the Jemison-Carnegie Foundation. The museum displays works of art from both local and regional artists, provides an arts enrichment program for local schools, and maintains a historical archive of local and county history. It is located in Talladega's historic district.

The building that currently houses the Heritage Hall Museum was originally the Talladega Public Library. It was designed by famed Alabama architect Frank Lockwood and built in 1908 with a grant from the Carnegie Foundation founded by steel magnate Andrew Carnegie as well as a land and cash grant of $10,000 from Louisa Jemison. A Talladega native, her husband Elbert Jemison was a successful cotton broker in Texas after the America Civil War who also sat on the New York Cotton Exchange and was president of a Texas Railroad that became part of the Southern Pacific. After his death in 1896, she became a philanthropist for the city and supported the library. Constructed in the Beaux Arts style with two Ionic columns, it was one of 14 Carnegie-funded libraries in the state of Alabama and it remained in the building until 1979 when it was moved to its present location behind the Carnegie building, becoming the Armstrong-Osborne Public Library. The Jemison-Carnegie Foundation was created to be the fund raising and support organization for the newly planned museum.

Art Exhibit at Jemison-Carnegie In 1981, the Talladega city council established the Talladega Heritage Commission and gave it authority and control over the original Talladega Public Library building. The council also charged the commission with operating a local museum and cultural center. The goals of the commission included restoring the old Talladega Public Library as a permanent non-profit institution and providing residents of Talladega County with experiences and education in the arts and humanities. The foundation sponsors the Jemison-Carnegie Heritage Hall Service Guild to promote awareness, appreciation, and knowledge of the arts for the Talladega County community through arts education and to provide docents for the new museum. In 1983, the former Talladega Public Library building was renovated, becoming the Jemison-Carnegie Heritage Hall Museum and housing exhibition space and a local history archive.

The museum hosts exhibitions of local and regional artists including the work of individuals, group shows, collected works of college and university arts faculties, and theme shows of self-taught artists, pottery, and folk artists. It also hosts exhibits on Talladega history as well as serving as an archive for local artifacts and documents donated by local families over the years. The museum's long-term goal is to scan and catalogue its entire collection of photographs and documents for broader and easier access. Some of the relevant historical and cultural exhibits include a photographic exhibit on "Notable Talladegans and Founding Fathers through the late 1800s," "Cemetery Art," and "Recent Past," which consists of photographs from the late nineteenth through the twentieth centuries.

Historic Ritz Theatre in Talladega Museum staff and local volunteers provide art enrichment programs for the community and host shows focused upon local and county history. In the summer, the museum hosts an arts enrichment program for elementary students called "Art Camps for Kids." These camps include art, music, dance, theater, pottery, and other fine-art instruction by local artists and teachers that culminate in a performance held at the historic Ritz Theatre in Talladega Square. The museum also hosts "Art in the Schools," which provides art instruction in the visual arts, theater, dance, music appreciation, and creative writing to Talladega city schools. For the adult general public, the museum provides art classes, lectures, and workshops throughout the year.

The museum is located in Talladega's historic "Silk Stocking District," which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. The 113-acre district showcases homes from the antebellum period through the early twentieth century but is best known for its many Victorian homes. Today, the museum stands as one of only four remaining Carnegie-affiliated buildings in the state of Alabama. Admission is open to the public Tuesday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

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