It’s like half a dozen museums in one. The 33 acres of the Atlanta History Center house two historic homes, six gardens, a research center and several permanent and temporary exhibits.
Located in Buckhead, the center affords an easy day trip from Fort Benning with plenty to do for the whole day. If you have time, a third historic home, the Margaret Mitchell House, is located at its midtown campus and is included with admission.
Below are a few highlights of the museum.
The Swan House and Gardens Distinguished as one of the most photographed sites in Atlanta, this 18th-century styled mansion reflects the opulence of a wealthy 1920s family. The Inmans built the house on 28 acres in Buckhead that they purchased for around $100,000. The home has hand-cut Italian marbling, an 1,100-year-old Tang dynasty wood carving, hand-painted wallpaper and — the latest craze — showers instead of bathtubs.
Sign up for a guided tour and learn fascinating facts about the Swan House, named for the many swans that appear in various forms throughout the décor.
The estate features a formal boxwood garden, a large cascading fountain, a terraced lawn, ornamental ponds and a plethora of roses, now in season.
The Tullie Smith Farm and Gardens Also open only through scheduled tours, which you can sign up for at the front desk, this farmhouse reflects middle class living in the mid-nineteenth century. You can see a butter churn, spinning wheel and barn loom along with a range of period furniture.
The grounds include a barn, blacksmith shop, smokehouse, log cabin, vegetable garden and open-hearth kitchen. A costumed docent explains the history of the home and can answer questions about rural Georgia life in the 1860s.
Centennial Olympic Games Museum Located in the main building, this permanent exhibit is a tribute to the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games effect on Atlanta. The collection documents the history of the Olympics, preserves a variety of artifacts and lets visitors test their knowledge with hands-on displays.
If you have kids along with you, they may enjoy the related Interactive Sports Lab.
Turning Point: the American Civil War This exhibit explores both sides of the war that changed America more than any other.
Through photographs, videos and displays, you can learn surprising details of the Civil War and examine its impact on life today. One of the largest exhibits at the center, the gallery features several weapons, uniforms, flags and similar artifacts from Union and Confederate troops.
The list above covers less than a third of what the center offers. Take a stroll through the three-acre Quarry Garden and see nearly 600 plant species. Visit the Metropolitan Frontiers exhibit and watch Atlanta unfold from the time of American Indians to its status as an international city. Admire ornate furniture, porcelain, silver and more in the collection of architect Philip Trammell Shutze, located on the lower floor of the Swan House.
And there’s still more.
For a complete list of exhibits and gardens, visit www.atlantahistorycenter.com. Ticket prices range from $11 to $16.50 and include admission to all the attractions.