Sixty years ago, about 400 people gathered at the former estate of W.C. and Sarah H. Bradley on Wynn’s Hill to dedicate the opening of the Columbus Museum of Arts and Crafts.
The Renaissance Revival mansion the Bradleys had called home had been donated to the city for, among other things, the creation of the city’s first real museum.
Almost 60 years later, Mayor Teresa Tomlinson addressed a crowd of patrons and board members on the mezzanine of the museum and read a proclamation declaring March 29, the date of that gathering in 1953, as Columbus Museum Day.
Tomlinson said the quality of the museum often comes as a surprise to visitors, who might not have expected such a facility or collection in Columbus.
“It really reflects, I think, what Columbus is,” Tomlinson said. “Columbus has this rich culture in this sophisticated environment that maybe people don’t appreciate at first glance.
“I think the museum exhibits that perfectly, so I think that something we celebrate today, something we’re very, very proud of.”
The museum has grown from those beginnings to become the second largest general museum in Georgia, housing more than 14,000 historical artifacts, an American fine arts gallery, a children’s gallery, traveling exhibitions and the Bradley Olmsted Garden.
The Olmsted Garden was designed by the Olmsted Brothers of Boston, sons of the famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted,
The garden was designed in 1928 by the Olmsted Brothers firm of Boston, which was founded by noted landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who helped design Central Park in Manhattan. W.C. Bradley himself is said to have been deeply involved in the creation of the garden.
In addition to the presentation of the proclamation marking the moment, visitors saw a screening of the museum’s new “Chattahoochee Legacy” film.
Museum Curator of History Rebecca Bush said the current “Chattahoochee Legacy” film has served the museum well for a quarter-century, but the area has changed a lot over that time, and an update was needed. “The new ‘Chattahoochee Legacy’ presents a compelling historical portrait of the Valley, featuring new interviews and historic images to tell both fresh and well-known stories from prehistory to today,” Bush said.