Fun Georgia Museums
Discovering Art, History and More
by Rachael Mason
Whether you're planning a move to Atlanta or are already settledin, doubtless you're eager to learn all about your new home. And one of the most enlightening ways to do that is to check out the wealth of art, history and culture on display at the area's many museums. Atlanta and its surrounding environs host many great institutions, including the nationally renowned High Museum of Art. Here are 10 compelling options within driving distance, where you can take in everything from outstanding art and Allman Brothers concert posters to steam engines and a look at life in the Wild West.
The Telfair Museums
Picturesque Savannah, about a four-hour drive from Atlanta, is great for weekend getaways. And the three Telfair museums, located in the pedestrian-friendly historic district, are the ideal place to begin exploring. At the Telfair Academy, you'll see American and European art from the 1800 and 1900s. The building was once a private home and its architecture is just as notable as the art on the walls. Contemporary artwork is on display at the Jepson Center, an addition to the Telfair that opened in 2006. Traveling with kids? You'll want to head straight to the center's ArtZeum, an interactive gallery designed with families in mind. And don't miss the Owens-Thomas House, a National Historic Landmark that has been lovingly restored.
The Allman Brothers Band Museum
If you only have a day to explore, consider a quick trip to the central Georgia city of Macon, a two-hour drive from metro Atlanta. Fans of Southern rock will want to linger at this museum dedicated to the history of the Allman Brothers. After moving to Macon in 1969, Duane Allman, Gregg Allman and Berry Oakley rented "The Big House" in 1970, sharing the property with their families. In 2009, the house opened as a museum. You'll see instruments played by the Allman Brothers, as well as concert posters and other band memorabilia.
The Tubman African-American Museum
Founded in 1981, this Macon museum is dedicated to African-American culture, art and history. You'll be impressed by the collection of folk art and works by Georgia artists. The museum's featured exhibit celebrates the life of Harriet Tubman, known for her work on the Underground Railroad and support of women's suffrage.
Historic Westville: Georgia's 1850s Living History Museum
Explore village life as it was lived in pre-Civil War Georgia as you walk the streets of this authentic village settlement and take in 30 historic buildings. Take in blacksmithing demonstrations and learn about daily tasks like soap-making and gardening. Westville, in southwest Georgia, is about a two-and-a-half hour drive from Atlanta.
The Suttons Frontier Corner Store Museum
For another look at life in rural Georgia, check out this museum that lovingly preserves a 19th-century country store. Artifacts on display include everything from wagon wheels and wooden cash registers to historic signs advertising tobacco and Coca-Cola. The museum also showcases authentic period farm equipment and other memorabilia. Outlying areas of Georgia were once the frontier of the expanding United States, and country stores offered settlers everything from farm equipment and dry goods to a post office and banking services. Though Fort Gaines is more than three hours from Atlanta, the town is only about an hour from Historic Westville.
Roosevelt's Little White House
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt suffered from polio and was treated at Warm Springs, a Georgia resort town roughly 90 minutes from Atlanta known for its therapeutic hot springs. The Little White House was his Georgia residence until his death there in 1945. The site has been perfectly preserved so you can see the house just as it was when Roosevelt lived there. Visit during Memorial Day Weekend for a chance to swim in the historic Warm Springs pools.
Southeastern Railway Museum
Make tracks for this 35-acre site in Duluth, where you'll find a wide variety of full-sized train cars. You'll see both steam and diesel locomotives as well as dining cars, sleeper cars, baggage cars and cabooses. Operated by the Atlanta Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, the museum also includes a restored train depot building.
Tellus Science Museum
Whether your kids are interested in fossils or the stars, there's plenty to entertain the entire family at this 120,000-square-foot museum. Pan for gems or see how you measure up against the jawbone of an ancient shark that was bigger than a school bus. Kids can also conduct experiments and play in a giant walk-in tree. Located about an hour northeast of Atlanta in Cartersville, Tellus Science Museum is an easy day trip.
Booth Western Art Museum
While you're in Cartersville, don't miss the Booth Western Art Museum, which is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and the second-largest art museum in the state (behind Atlanta's High Museum of Art). In the Cowboy Gallery, you'll see more than 35 sculptures and paintings depicting this American icon. The Heading West gallery showcases the first Western explorers, like fur trappers and mountain men, as well as stagecoaches and covered wagons. Native American artifacts can also be found here.
Morris Museum of Art
A little less than three hours away in Augusta, this museum dedicated to the artists of the South is located next to Riverwalk Augusta, a scenic area beside the Savannah River that includes gardens and a playground. You'll see everything from 18th century Southern watercolors to contemporary pieces from the region's top artists. The museum's collection includes nearly 5,000 items.