Georgia’s ‘Museum City’ now home to Savoy Automobile Museum

Cartersville is the smallest city in America with two Smithsonian Affiliate museums.
A new museum celebrating cars opens in Cartersville.

A new museum celebrating cars opens in Cartersville.

Cartersville may not be the first place you think of visiting for a weekend road trip but it certainly should if you’re a car enthusiast, history aficionado, art lover or science philomath.

Nestled between Atlanta and Chattanooga, Tennessee, Cartersville has been dubbed Georgia’s “Museum City” as it is home to Georgia Museums Inc., a nonprofit that operates the new Savoy Automobile Museum, Bartow History Museum, Booth Western Art Museum and Tellus Science Museum. Cartersville is by far the smallest city in America with two Smithsonian Affiliate museums (the Booth and Tellus) and boasts other notable attractions like the world’s first painted wall sign to advertise Coca-Cola, Rose Lawn Museum and Euharlee Covered Bridge and History Museum.

A 1903 Curved Dash Oldsmobile on display at the Savoy Automobile Museum.

Credit: Courtesy of Savoy Automobile Museum

icon to expand image

Credit: Courtesy of Savoy Automobile Museum

Savoy Automobile Museum

The 65,000-square-foot Savoy Automobile Museum opened in December and sits on a 37-acre campus. It is highlighted by a collection of nearly 100 restored antique and classic cars throughout the permanent Savoy Collection and four temporary exhibition galleries. Currently, the oldest vehicle housed at Savoy is a 1903 Oldsmobile Curved Dash Runabout.

The museum found its name during the clearing of the property when a rusty abandoned 1954 Plymouth Savoy was discovered and preserved. It was designed by the late Frank Bergman, who described it as European Modern and also designed sister museums the Booth and Tellus. In addition to the galleries, Savoy showcases a 297-person theater, research library, cafe, private dining rooms, vehicle storage building and an outdoor space that will accommodate upwards of 1,000 vehicles.

Savoy Automobile Museum Director of Development Tom Shinall said the museum’s goal since day one has been to connect people to the cultural diversity of the automobile.

“The car culture community is a multi-generational group of individuals, families, friends, clubs, and organizations that share a passion for all things automobiles,” Shinall said. “As a nonprofit organization, we are here to provide an enriching experience — a place for people to reconnect with memories, tell stories and learn something along the way.”

Savoy plans to rotate exhibitions in the Great Hall and Galleries A, B and C on a predetermined schedule with Gallery D, the permanent “Savoy Collection,” occasionally rotating vehicles in-and-out of display. Each temporary exhibition is curated based on a certain automotive theme with the current themes being “The Great American Classics,” “American Racing,” “Woodies” and “Orphans.”

The Great Hall at Savoy Automobile Museum.

Credit: Courtesy of Savoy Automobile Museum

icon to expand image

Credit: Courtesy of Savoy Automobile Museum

Savoy’s Director of Curatorial Services Bruce Patton noted the museum is fortunate to have the opportunity to share vehicles from the Savoy collection in addition to vehicles from other automobile museums and private collections from around the country.

“As we rotate the themes in our temporary galleries, our goal is to provide our patrons the opportunity to view vehicles and hear presentations on various automobiles and automotive events that they may not have had the opportunity to do in person,” he said.

3 Savoy Lane, Cartersville. 770-416-1500, savoymuseum.org.

Bartow History Museum

The Bartow History Museum is housed in the refurbished 1869 courthouse building in downtown Cartersville. The museum’s permanent exhibit explores more than 200 years of history focusing on settlement, Cherokee life and removal, Civil War strife and lifestyles of years past. Its collection features a wide-range of heirloom objects that include vintage and antique furniture, cookware, household goods, locally manufactured products, local crafts, tools, toys and other objects that illustrate the history of Bartow County. The newest exhibit at the museum, “Tea Time,” is a collection of items highlighting the history of tea and the culture surrounding it.

4 E. Church St., Cartersville. 770-387-2774, bartowhistorymuseum.org.

"Experience the American West in Georgia at Cartersville's Booth Western Art Museum." 
Courtesy of Booth Western Art Museum

Credit: Handout

icon to expand image

Credit: Handout

Booth Western Art Museum

The 120,000-square-foot Booth Western Art Museum houses the largest permanent exhibition of Western American art in the country. The core of the museum’s collection is centered around “living masters of traditional Western imagery” such as Howard Terpning (known for images for “Gone With the Wind” and “The Sound of Music”), Ken Riley and G. Harvey, as well as more contemporary artists like Ed Mell, Thom Ross and Kim Wiggins.

501 N. Museum Drive, Cartersville. 770-387-1300, boothmuseum.org.

Tellus Science Museum

Credit: Courtesy of Tellus Science Museum​

icon to expand image

Credit: Courtesy of Tellus Science Museum​

Tellus Science Museum

The 120,000-square-foot Tellus Science Museum opened in 2009 after expanding from the Weinman Mineral Museum, which was open for more than 20 years. Tellus is highlighted by its 40-foot, 120-seat digital planetarium and an observatory with a state-of-the-art 20-inch telescope. The museum also features four main galleries: The Weinman Mineral Gallery, The Fossil Gallery, Science in Motion and The Collins Family My Big Backyard.

100 Tellus Drive, Cartersville. 770-606-5700, tellusmuseum.org.

About the Author