Artful Instruments: Georgia Gunsmiths and Their Craft

December 02, 2017 - February 25, 2018
Dorothy Alexander Roush and Martha Thompson Dinos Galleries

This exhibition gathers a range of early Georgia firearms and related accessories from both private collections and other museums. For example, it includes a flintlock long rifle dating 1830–40, crafted by Georgia gunsmith Wiley Grover Higgins and decorated with a gamecock motif. Like many of the decorative and applied arts in the state, gunsmithing in Georgia has been overlooked except by a devoted group of collector-scholars. As recently as this year, a major collector of material culture in the mid-Atlantic referred publicly to the longrifle forms that were “made as far South as Charlotte, N.C.” The Henry D. Green Center for the Study of the Decorative Arts attempts to identify and make accessible art forms that have received less attention in our region. Gunsmithing incorporated many crafts, such as silversmithing, casting and woodworking. Rifles represent the quintessence of craft in 19th-century Georgia, and the objects in this exhibition are some of the finest artistic achievements in the state at the time. The exhibition will be on view during the ninth Henry D. Green Symposium of the Decorative Arts (Feb. 1–3, 2018) and will be accompanied by a fully illustrated exhibition catalogue published by the museum.


Sam Thomas, curator, T.R.R. Cobb House, and Dale Couch, curator of decorative arts


Community Foundation for Northern Virginia/the MOTSTA Fund, the Watson-Brown Foundation, the W. Newton Morris Charitable Foundation and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art