The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts is the premier institution of southern American art, recognized as such nationally and internationally. The museum's collection is comprised of architecture (actual rooms from old houses installed in the museum), ceramics, furniture, paintings, paper, silver, and textiles. The museum also conducts field research, publishes books, journals and papers, and offers many educational programs. It also features a research center that contains 20,000 objects made the south.
Southern art was dismissed through much of the first half of the 20th century. However, thanks to the efforts of Frank Horton and his mother, Theodosia—both of whom were antique dealers and collectors—did Southern art become a respected art form. Their dream of a museum showcasing Southern art came to fruition in 1965, when the museum opened. Frank and Theodosia loaned their collections to the museum and also established an endowment to help fund it.