Hammonds House Museum
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Mission and History

Mission and History of the Museum


Mission & Vision

Our mission, "to preserve, exhibit, interpret and increase public awareness about the contributions that visual artists of African descent have made to world culture" is the underpinning of the of the institution's ongoing work. Artistic excellence, culture and community is the focus of our vision.



The Museum

Nestled on a quiet residential street in Atlanta’s historic West End, Hammonds House Museum is a unique setting to explore the cultural diversity and legacy of artists of African descent.  The Museum is the former residence of the late Dr. Otis Thrash Hammonds, a prominent Atlanta physician and a passionate arts patron.  Shortly after his death in June 1985, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners under the leadership of Chairman Michael Lomax purchased the house and the collection of 250 artworks which Dr. Hammonds had amassed over the years. The property was purchased with the intention of it becoming the African American research library but the library board passed on the building.  Edward S. Spriggs, who had been the director of Studio Museum of Harlem for seven years was now in Fulton County's Public Arts department and was watching the debates about how to use the newly acquired building with great interest.  Spriggs submitted a proposal for an African American Museum to the board of commissioners which was adopted.  The Hammonds House Galleries, a 501(c)3 organization, opened in 1988. The name was later changed to Hammonds House Museum.

Hammonds House Museum boasts a permanent collection of more than 350 works dating from the mid-19th century by artists from America, Africa, and the Caribbean.  Highlights of the collection include 18 works by master artist Romare Bearden and the oldest known painting by acclaimed landscape artist Robert S. Duncanson. Benny Andrews, Elizabeth Catlett, Sam Gilliam, Richard Hunt, Jacob Lawrence, P.H. Polk, Hale Woodruff, and James Van Der Zee are among the scores of important regional, national, and international artists represented in the collection. 

The Museum’s yearly calendar of events includes 4 visual art exhibitions by significant mid-career and established artists, artist talks, panel discussions, workshops, art education for young people, as well as book readings, music concerts and more.  

For 30 years, Hammonds House Museum has been a mecca for people seeking inspiration, interaction, and intellectual stimulation centered on art of the African Diaspora.  We look forward to seeing what the next 30 years will bring.

O.T. Hammonds

Hammonds House is the former residence of the late Dr. Otis Thrash Hammonds, an Atlanta physician and art patron. Shortly after his death in June 1985, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners purchased the house and a collection of over 250 artworks which he had amassed over the years. Dr. Hammonds took an interest in struggling young artists and art groups and supported a number of them over the years. He was a major supporter of Black artists in Atlanta, serving as Chairman of the Board of the Neighborhood Arts Center, a community arts center which since the 1970s has nurtured many Black artists and arts groups, including the African Dance Ensemble and the Southern Collective of African Writers. Dr. Hammonds was also a member of the Board of Trustees of the High Museum of Art and several committees of the museum, including the Young Collectors of the High Museum of Art.  Dr. Hammonds donated a major work of art by Romare Bearden to the museum. He also served as a member of the Board of the Sculptural Arts Museum, the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library Art Committee, the Atlanta Public Art Committee, the Atlanta Preservation Society, and the Nanette Bearden Contemporary Dance Company in New York City.

In addition to his distinguished career as a patron of the Arts, Dr. Hammonds also had a distinguished medical career, serving as Chief of Staff, and Chief of Anesthesiology of the Southwest Community Hospital, Chairman of the Board of the West End Medical Association, founder of the Westside Anesthesia Association, a member of the Board of the Metropolitan Atlanta Health Plan, a member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, and the National, Georgia, and Atlanta Medical Association’s “Man of the Year.”


the permanent collection

The Hammonds House Museum Permanent Collection includes artworks representing significant African American artists dating from the mid-nineteenth century. 250 of the works in the collection were collected by Dr. Hammonds and included sculptures and masks from Africa, paintings from Haiti, and a variety of art forms by Black American artists. The strongest areas include contemporary African American paintings and works on paper, as well as paintings by twenty important Haitian artists. Among the African American artists represented are: Romare Bearden, Sam Gilliam, Benny Andrews, Richard Hunt and Elizabeth Catlett from Dr. Hammonds original collection. Additional works have been added to the collection and includes work by younger contemporary artists such as Radcliffe Bailey, Kevin Cole, Amalia Amaki and others.   An important holding in the collection is the earliest dateable work of Robert S. Duncanson, a 19th century artist who was associated with the Hudson River School, the first identifiable American fine art movement.