Museum near Atlanta wins southeast travel attraction of the year

Booth Western Art Museum was recently named Southeast Tourism Society's 2016 "Escape to the Southeast Travel Attraction of the Year."

Tom Shinall, the museum’s director of marketing, was also honored with a “Rising Star Award” by the Southeast Tourism Society.

Opened in 2003, the Booth Museum (501 N Museum Dr, Cartersville), is an affiliate to the Smithsonian Institution, housing the largest permanent exhibition space for Western art in America. The Booth encompasses 120,000-square-feet, making it the second largest art museum in Georgia. It is located about 30 minutes north of Atlanta. Permanent exhibits include Western Galleries – eight galleries including hundreds of paintings, sculptures and artifacts depicting the cowboys and native Americans that exemplify Western Art; the Civil War Gallery, a chronological view of paintings and sculpture of the Civil War; and Sagebrush Ranch, a hands-on, interactive children’s gallery.

Former Attraction of the Year winners include Opryland USA, Graceland, Stone Mountain Park, Aquarium of the America's, Tennessee Aquarium and Rock City Gardens.

In making its decision, the Southeast Tourism Society pointed to recent exhibits including "The President's Photographer: Fifty Years Inside the Oval Office" which was at the museum earlier this year. The exhibit took visitors behind the lens to experience the world of the White House photographers – eleven in all, since 1961. The exhibit included rarely seen images from the Kennedy years to the Obama Administration.

“We are honored to receive this recognition from the Southeast Tourism Society. We work hard on offering an experience that is truly unique in the Southeast – something locals, destination travelers and international visitors can all enjoy,” said Seth Hopkins, executive director. “As the Booth Museum permanent collection grows and the quality of our temporary exhibitions develops, we continue to improve our visitor experience. It is nice to have these efforts acknowledged among such a great roster of past winners.”

Here’s a look at current exhibits:

Everett Raymond Kinstler: Journeys West and Beyond

Now Through Oct. 2

Ray Kinstler is one of America’s greatest portrait painters. Seven U.S. Presidents have sat for him, as have 50 cabinet officers and many of the brightest stars in business and entertainment. Yet he began his art career like many in the Booth collection, doing illustrations for Western pulp magazines and book covers. This exhibition is a retrospective of his Western subjects covering over 60 years.

Frank Harding: Collection of a Cattleman

Now through Nov. 27

Earlier this year Booth Museum Director Seth Hopkins received a call from businessman Duncan Alexander, who had acquired a collection of Western art from his late business partner, Frank Harding. Duncan hoped to find a museum that would appreciate the collection and honor Harding. A quick visit to Illinois confirmed the collection had important pieces by leading contemporary artists Harry Jackson, Joe Beeler, Gordon Snidow, Tom Ryan, Robert Lougheed, and James Boren.

Booth Western Art Museum, 501 Museum Drive, Cartersville. Tickets$7-$10. 770-387-1300,