Popes Museum is a national treasure with its roots in Grady County that exemplifies the importance of the arts in women’s history, civic pride, and historic preservation. As such, Popes Museum is a core player in strengthening the community of South Georgia specifically targeting the areas of the arts, education, and historic preservation.
Found in Grady County, Pope’s Museum is the former home of Laura Pope Forester, a self taught artist, notable not only for creating a large art environment of high artistic quality around her rural residence and store, but also as one of the few female artists to do so in the twentieth century.
Certainly she had no formal training other than 3 months from a traveler, and her art was not featured during her lifetime in any art exhibits as are traditional artists. Yet before her death in 1953, she had created 200 sculptures, wall to wall murals and gardens of exquisite design and intention. She also spent her life working to open up possibilities for women, often with her art.
Because of her position on opportunities for women, Laura’s message was just as revolutionary as her art. She intentionally created replicas of women and men (usually women) that demonstrated a trait that she found admirable. Some examples are Nancy Hart-the Georgia Heroine who single handedly captured and hung 6 British military officials during the Revolutionary War, Cleopatra and Mitchell’s literary heroine Scarlet O’Hara . Using such common objects as Model T wheels and sewing machine parts, sand from Pope’s Creek and berries from the estate she created an emporium of architectural marvels, large wall murals and statues that were statements of her convictions. She was also a patriot. Statues of the Red Cross nurse of World War I, Women in Industry and the Queen Mother are embedded with hand hewn marble slabs of the veterans from our area who served our nation in the World Wars. Along with honoring our veterans, her message resonated the value of women in our society.