While not your typical museum, the Atlanta History Center is the hub of preservation in the city and owns the Margaret Mitchell House, Swan House, and the Tullie Smith House in addition to its main facility. The 33-acre history center details the legacy of the area with exhibits on the development of Atlanta, Civil War artifacts, and even mementos from the 1996 Centennial Olympics. Be sure to tour the Swan House and have lunch in the Coach House. In early 2017, the Atlanta Cyclorama, a large-scale Civil War painting, will find a permanent home here.
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Explore the Civil War, and More
A high spot of a recent visit to Atlanta was a visit to the Atlanta History Center, an outstanding history museum.
A 9200 square foot gallery is devoted to a permanent exhibit on the Civil War (Turning Point: The American Civil War) that takes the visitor though that conflict year by year. It is one of the largest and most complete Civil War exhibits in the country. As my great-great grandfather fought for the Union, my interest was more than passing.
The treatment is balanced and greatly aided by over 1500 Union and Confederate artifacts gathered by the DuBose family over two generations. Weapons, uniforms, utensils, tools, equipment, flags, photographs, and documents together with dioramas and videos give the history flesh. Topics include the daily lives of soldiers, role of women, emancipation of slaves, supply of munitions, battle plans, and political considerations of the time. I have finally truly grasped the Civil War, which haunts us today.
The permanent exhibit on the history of Atlanta is excellent as well, tracing the city from its start as a small town at the end of the railroad line (first named Terminus) to the bustling city of today.
I spent too much time in the Civil War gallery to have time to visit two nearby historic houses (included in the admission): the Smith family farm house (1840s) and Swan House, the 1920s mansion of a wealthy family. These looked very interesting, too. Next time!