Well worth a wall

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Since its inception in 1992, the Morris Museum of Art has taken great care in assembling a representative collection mindful of the institution's mandate of celebrating and preserving the traditions of Southern art.

Through institutional purchases, gifts and bequests, the collection has grown to about 5,000 pieces, including the Julia Norrell Trust of 1,000 items announced in 2006.

"The collection has nearly doubled in the past five years," said Kevin Grogan, the executive director of the Morris, which celebrates its 15th exhibit anniversary this year. The challenge is finding a way to put this extensive collection on display. Though effort is made to rotate work in and out of the galleries, Morris curator Jay Williams acknowledged that it takes creativity to get as many pieces as possible onto the museum's walls.

"Our plan is, over time, to have an increasing amount of the permanent collection on view," he said. "But we have the same problem as a lot of museums: The collection has grown much faster than the facility. And unfortunately, we don't have a wall-stretcher."

Because it cannot hang in the public galleries, the majority of the collection is stored in on-site vaults. One notable exception is a large Robert Rauchenberg composition which, because of its size, must be kept at an off-site storage facility.

Assembling a list of "representative" paintings is tough, but there are works that, because of popularity, importance or aesthetic quality, have become marquee pieces in the collection. Here's a sampling.

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.


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