Even Atlantans who artfully navigate their way around our cultural scene might be surprised at just how many museums the metro area boasts.
Most locals have, say, the High Museum of Art and the Atlanta History Center on their radar. But did you know that the city also is home to one of the country’s most important historic African-American art collections (Clark Atlanta University Art Galleries), a museum about the history of paper and paper technology (Georgia Tech’s Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking) and an institution that puts health and disease under the microscope (David J. Sencer CDC Museum)?
To promote the wealth of opportunities for cultural enrichment that Atlanta affords, the first ATL Museum Week will be held Saturday through May 1, with three dozen Atlanta museums and attractions offering special admission deals.
Twenty-eight, from longtime major attractions such as the Georgia Aquarium and the Center for Puppetry Arts, to new ones such as the College Football Hall of Fame, are offering two-for-one admission over those seven days. Eight others are making entry free.
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The offers — marking the first time that sometime-competitors for precious foot traffic have banded together for the greater cultural good — are being extended in conjunction with the 2015 American Alliance of Museums (AAM) annual meeting in Atlanta being held over four days starting Sunday.
Museum Week’s theme is “Discover What’s New,” and Mary Pat Matheson, president and CEO of the Atlanta Botanical Garden and PR and marketing chair for the AAM annual meeting, said its planners hope Atlantans will spend at least one full day sampling places they’ve never frequented.
“It’s like spending a day at the Smithsonian without leaving home,” Matheson suggested.
Expecting thousands to take advantage of Museum Week options, organizers pledge to make Museum Week an annual event.
Here are but a few discounted opportunities that await:
- The Booth Western Art Museum is presenting the exhibition “The President’s Photographer: Fifty Years Inside the Oval Office” through June 7. It might seem like a departure but isn’t.
The 51-print National Geographic exhibit gives a rare glimpse into the world of the chief White House photographer, surveying the work of the 11 who have served in the image-shaping role since 1961. And the Cartersville museum has complemented the touring show by adding 36 images by the late Michael Evans, photography chief during President Ronald Reagan’s first term and an Atlanta resident for two years before his 2005 death.
The Booth was founded in 2003 with, in addition to its dominant Western art collection, two smaller ones, Civil War art and presidential materials (the reason behind its broader-than-the-West advertising slogan: “See America’s Story”). Its Carolyn & James Millar Presidential Gallery, believed to be the only display anywhere showcasing signed letters by every president along with portrait photographs of each, has been a popular stop since day one.
- Emory University’s Michael C. Carlos Museum organizes and hosts an array of intriguing exhibits mainly relating to ancient art, including, through June 21, “African Cosmos: Stellar Arts.”
Organized by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, it features more than 70 works from throughout the African continent that explore how the sun, moon, stars and celestial phenomena such as lightning and rainbows have served as sources of inspiration in the creation of African art from ancient times to the present.
Yet any children in your party are more likely to be pulled like magnets to the mummies (four animal and four human) on display from the Carlos’ permanent collection.
- Tucked away in Turner Field at Aisle 134, the Braves Museum and Hall of Fame features more than 600 artifacts and photographs that trace the team’s history from its beginnings in Boston (1871-1952) to Milwaukee (1953-65) and then Atlanta (1966-present).
New this season are two exhibits paying tribute to the Braves’ five decades here: “Homes of the Braves,” featuring photographs and information on the team’s five ballparks in the three cities, along with the shovel Hank Aaron used for the groundbreaking of the coming sixth one, SunTrust Park; and “50 Years in Atlanta,” artifacts and photos highlighting great moments since the Braves’ arrival catapulted Atlanta into the ranks of “major league” cities.
- Just ahead of Museum Week, the High Museum of Art is opening two unconventional, experiential exhibits on Friday.
“Los Trompos” (“The Spinning Tops”), a site-specific art installation outside the High’s front door on the Woodruff Arts Center’s Sifly Piazza, features more than 40 three-dimensional, larger-than-life tops/rides in a variety of colors and shapes. (See box for more information.)
And Shanghai artist Michael Lin’s “Utah Sky 2065-40 (Blue Curve),” a 2,000-square-foot, triangular-shaped work featuring a brightly colored floral pattern inspired by a traditional Asian textile print, makes its debut on the atrium floor of the Richard Meier-designed Stent Family Wing. Museumgoers are encouraged to walk on and immerse themselves in the painting, constructed of 1-inch-thick wood panels.
- Since opening beside Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in 1995, the Delta Flight Museum was one of Atlanta’s more interesting but lesser-known attractions, mainly welcoming Delta “family” and in-the-know aviation aficionados.
But after a $10 million renovation (which brought air conditioning among other enhancements) completed last year, the 68,000-square-foot museum filling two adjoining 1940s maintenance hangars now flies first-class.
The Propeller Age and Jet Age hangars are linked by a tunnel in which, as visitors stroll through, the relatively polite sound of prop planes gives way to jet engine roar. Hundreds of small memorabilia pieces are displayed in both.
But plane-loving kids of all ages are sure to be agog at the museum’s historic fleet, from restored 1931 Curtiss-Wright 6B Sedan, similar to the Travel Air S-6000-B that flew Delta’s first passengers in 1929, to a Boeing 767 (known as “The Spirit of Delta”) that contains countless additional artifacts.