Former jail continues to thrive as art museum in LaGrange

The LaGrange Art Museum.
The LaGrange Art Museum. Courtesy of LaGrange Art Museum

LaGrange, Ga., is home to an art museum with an unusual history.

The building didn’t actually become a museum until 30 years ago, but it has been there for centuries. Formerly a private home, the building was first acquired by the city in 1892. It served as the Troup County Jail until 1939 when prisoners was transferred to a new facility. Afterward, the building was occupied by a furniture store and eventually became the location for the LaGrange Daily News offices.

It didn’t become a venue for the arts until the Callaway Foundation donated the building to the Chattahoochee Valley Art Association in 1978. Famous LaGrange native Lamar Dodd assisted in building the permanent collection by donating one of his pieces to the CVAA. This led to start of the collection, though the building didn’t officially become a museum until 1990 when it was named the Chattahoochee Valley Art Museum.

In 1996, the CVAM hosted the Georgia Watercolor Society National Show, and has since hosted multiple exhibits from both local artists and from artists across the southeast. In 2007, the name of the building officially changed to the LaGrange Art Museum as it remains today.

The Callaway Foundation and the West Point Stevens Foundation have both played instrumental roles in establishing the LaGrange Art Museum as a major player in the area’s cultural scene. Their partnership for the development of the Center for Creative Learning led to the museum’s ability to offer educational programming with an emphasis on developing young artists.

Now almost 20 years later, the museum hosts multiple exhibits a year, offers vibrant programming for youth and holds a successful partnership with LaGrange College’s Lamar Dodd School of Art.

LaGrange Art Museum continues to present exhibits from all over the Southeast, but 2017 holds a traveling exhibition of Norman Rockwell illustrations as well as a custom exhibit from Pasaquan running now through August. Past exhibitions have varied in subject from new work of Southern artists, to printmaking, photography and an exhibit about the American West.

And there is no shortage of educational opportunities at the museum for youth of all ages. Their monthly Toddler Thursdays brings art education to preschoolers through literature, gallery activities and art projects, while their Family Super Saturdays offer tours of current exhibits and activities in the Center for Creative Learning.

Their summer lineup of camps for 2017 is programmed to meet all age levels from preschool through high school. Children can start at age 3 for short morning or afternoon camps exploring different art techniques. Middle and high school students can take a class called Advanced Placement Portfolio in which they will get firsthand experience building their own portfolio.

For patrons wishing to visit, it’s good to know that the museum is only open Tuesday through Saturday. Troup County residents enter free, but a $10 donation is required of all other guests. Art classes and lectures are available intermittently, but it’s always a good idea to just call and ask for the latest updated information before you head to LaGrange. Don’t be afraid to ask about upcoming exhibitions, too. You never know what you’ll miss if you don’t ask!

If you go

What: LaGrange Art Museum’s Summer Programming

When: June 5- June 30

Where: 112 Lafayette Parkway

Cost: $65-$170

Call: 706-882-3267 or

More to Know:

LaGrange Art Museum Summer Camps 2017

Summertime is a wonderful opportunity for children to expand and grow. Camps offer weeks of fun, age appropriate visual arts integrated lessons. Experienced artists/teachers and great projects that have new or re-imagined for 2017.

June 5-9- or June 26-30

Camp LAM Ages 3-6 yrs

10:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m. or 1:00 p.m.- 3:00 p.m. $70/session or $65 for members.

June 12-16 and/or June 19-23

Rising 2nd-6th Grade Half Day Camp

9:00 a.m.- 12:00 p.m. and/or 1:00 p.m.- 4:00 p.m. $80/session or $170 for all day, or $75/$160 for members.

June 26-June 30

Middle and High School Advanced Placement Portfolio

1:00 p.m.- 4:00 p.m., $100.00 or $95.00 for members.

If you go

What: In the Land of Pasaquan, The Story of Eddie Owens Martin

When: Through Aug. 5

Where: 112 Lafayette Parkway

Cost: Free for Troup County residents; $10 donation for non-residents.

Call: 706-882-3267 or

More to Know: The LaGrange Art Museum is the only off-site venue to exhibit St. EOM’s unattached work, and provides safe harbor to works which cannot be seen on-site and whose condition requires a climate controlled, indoor environment.