Atlanta’s Lesser-Known Museums

Atlanta’s off-the-beaten-path museums often focus on specific knowledge. These institutions—devoted to Egyptian relics, the creation of paper, how money is made, disease control, African-American history, and more—are worth a visit to explore a different side of Atlanta.

1315 Peachtree Street Northeast
Located near the Woodruff Arts complex, the Museum of Design Atlanta is a 5,000-square-foot space devoted to unique design. The building itself is a contemporary marvel, and the pieces inside constantly change. A recent exhibit showcased furniture and design pieces made with European wine barrels.
100 Tellus Dr, Cartersville, GA 30120, USA
The drive to Cartersville is well worth it for a visit to the Tellus Science Museum, which covers nearly every end of the field. Start in the Mineral Gallery, which includes some of Georgia’s most prized minerals in 50 cases. The fossils of the Tyrannosaurus Rex and Megaladon are must-sees, as is the gem and fossil panning area where you can dig like a real archaeologist. Science in Motion discusses physics and engineering that led to the invention of cars, planes and spaceships.
135 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30303, USA
The African American Panoramic Experience, known as the APEX Museum, is Sweet Auburn’s best museum on African American history. It starts with the culture and heritage of Africa without focusing on the topic of slavery, which many other museums discuss. There is also an exhibit on the historic Sweet Auburn neighborhood and its relationship to the African American experience in Atlanta.
571 South Kilgo Cir NE, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA
In 1876, a small museum collection was started in Oxford, Ga., at the original Emory University campus. Over the years—through acquisitions, archaeological digs, and donations—the collection has grown to include pieces from ancient Greece, Meso-America, Rome, and Africa. But what makes the Carlos so impressive is the collection of Egyptian mummies and sarcophagi. The Carlos, now located in Decatur, also hosts traveling exhibitions of art and artifacts.
A visit to the Georgia Capitol allows guests to see the role of the government firsthand. It’s free to go on a self-guided tour of the grounds and capitol and if the House and Senate are in session, you can watch from the gallery, too. The museum on the fourth floor features exhibits on Georgia wildlife and natural resources as well as artifacts from the history of the capitol itself. When you get outside, admire the Dahlonega gilded dome.
1000 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30309, USA
The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta is one of 12 Fed branches in the country, and has a free fascinating museum inside. Open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the museum covers the development of American banks, the transition from bartering to standard currency, and counterfeit bills. You can even see money being printed and sorted. You have to go through a metal detector and lock your things in luggage storage, but photos aren’t allowed anyways. Grab a free bag of shredded money before you go.
1440 Spring Street Northwest
The unassuming gated building is truly an undiscovered Atlanta museum that highlights the importance of the city’s prominent Jewish citizens. The Breman Museum is a part of the Selig Center, which has its own library and archives and regularly holds events. The Breman has three exhibits: one on notable Jewish Atlantans, another on the Holocaust and a third that rotates regularly. The Eighteen Artifacts exhibit highlights different pieces from residents like the owner of Jacob’s Pharmacy, the first to carry Coca Cola, and Arthur Blank, one of the founders of the Home Depot. The second exhibit is Absence of Humanity, a very in-depth exhibit on the Holocaust with artifacts from the concentration camps and the people who lived there. The newest exhibit focused on Jewish writer and illustrator Maurice Sendak with child-friendly displays. Parking is free and admission is $12 for adults. It’s easy to miss the turn, but it’s right next to the Center for Puppetry Arts and within walking distance of the Arts Center MARTA Station.
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