About the Carlos Museum
Since its formal establishment on Emory’s Atlanta campus in 1919, the Michael C. Carlos Museum has become one of the premier museums in the Southeast. The museum holds one of the most comprehensive collections in the region with artwork from ancient Egypt, Nubia, and the Near East; Greece and Rome; the Americas; Africa; and Asia as well as a collection of works on paper from the Renaissance to the present.
Through world-class permanent collections and special exhibitions, innovative programming, and one-of-a-kind opportunities to engage with art firsthand, the Carlos Museum serves Emory University and the Atlanta community as a dynamic interdisciplinary center that cultivates literacy in the arts and fosters understanding of diverse religions and civilizations.
History and Mission
Emory University’s collections date back to 1876 when a museum was formed on the original campus in Oxford, Georgia. At this stage in its development, the museum’s collection resembled the Renaissance wunderkammer, or “wonder room;” here, an assortment of objects such as artifacts collected by Methodist missionaries and Emory faculty working in Asia were displayed for the enjoyment of the public.
After the collection moved to Emory’s main campus in 1919, attempts were made to transition the eclectic assortment from Oxford into a research-quality collection. Through the mid-20th century, the collection grew in the areas of natural science and archaeology.
The museum began a period of significant transition in the 1980s, as Emory faculty worked to refine the collection and find a permanent home for the museum with the assistance of university administration. In 1985, with the support of local philanthropist Michael C. Carlos, the museum moved into the old law school building, whose renovation was designed by Michael Graves.
The collection of the Emory University Museum of Art and Archaeology as it was then known had been reorganized and refocused to align with the research and teaching objectives of university faculty in areas such as Latin American, African, and classical art and Middle Eastern Studies.
Fewer than 10 years later, the growth of the museum’s collections necessitated a new space. In 1993, an expanded museum and a new conservation laboratory, also supported by Michael C. Carlos and designed by Michael Graves, opened as the Michael C. Carlos Museum.
In 2019, the museum celebrated 100 years of inspiring generations of Emory faculty and students as well as visitors from Atlanta and beyond who have sought to enrich their lives through the study of and experiences with art.
The Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University collects, preserves, exhibits, and interprets art and artifacts from antiquity to the present in order to provide unique opportunities for education and enrichment in the community and to promote interdisciplinary teaching and research at Emory University.