Today is the deadline to buy tickets for the Arts & Antique Show gala and luncheon

It was because of a mission to raise money for the Columbus Museum that the annual art and antique show was born four years ago.

"The board and museum leadership began looking at alternatives to our perennial fundraisers of Flying Colors and Flying High during the museum's 50th anniversary planning," said director Tom Butler. "These events' popularity had begun to wane and it was determined that a new approach to our annual fundraiser be developed as a Museum Guild project. Claudia Garrard volunteered to accept this challenge, and after a year of studying other regional antique shows, she was able to form a strong team from the Guild and the community and develop a new major event."

Guest speakers came, including celebrity gardener P. Allen Smith and British designer Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill (the eldest daughter of the 11th Duke of Marlborough).

The purpose of the fundraiser, Butler said, was to encourage and educate the public about collecting fine antiques and to provide a showcase for local and regional artists. And, of course, to raise money for the museum's various programs and exhibits.

This year, organizers decided on a more down-home designer — Robert McAlpine, who was born in Vredenburg, Ala., which is near Monroeville. An Auburn University graduate, he now is a partner at McAlpine-Tankersley Architecture and at McAlpine, Booth and Ferrier Interiors, both in Montgomery.

"Now in its fourth year, with Helen Johnson as chair, its popularity remains strong and dealers view the Columbus show as one of their most hospitable and enjoyable shows on their circuit," Butler said.

Johnson said there will be more than 30 vendors in art and antiques from around the country who will be selling their wares. In addition, there are 14 area artists and one from Stone Mountain who will be setting up booths.

"This is one way of broadening the Museum's market," Johnson said. "It will be a good show."

She calls this a "really unique opportunity" to meet McAlpine, whom she says "everything he designs has a tranquility" to the work.

His book, "Finding Home," is a small book filled with his poems and thoughts about what he does. It's also filled with photographs of homes he's designed.

"The book talks about his concepts and philosophy of life," Johnson said. "And the meaning of home."

Besides the art and antiques show, there will be a plant sale.

"The Guild Gardeners of the Columbus Museum will have over 200 different container arrangements, really 'works of art' themselves, for sale," Johnson said. "The prices will range from $15 to $100 in a wide variety of containers. Some of these containers will be antiques. The containers will be for the house and the yard. Many of the house arrangements will be created from a wide variety of orchids."

IF YOU GOWhat: The Fourth annual Art and Antiques Show of the Columbus Museum is April 17-20Where: RiverMill Event Centre, 3715 First Ave.Events: There is a gala at 7 p.m. April 17. Tickets are $125. A lunch and lecture with guest designer Robert McAlpine of Montgomery, is noon-1:30 p.m. April 18. Tickets are $35, and include a weekend admission. Reservations for the gala and the lunch and lecture must be made by 5 today.Tickets: $10 at the door and are good for all three daysInformation: 706-748-2562, ext. 542