Museums not to miss
Museums not to miss
Lakelife Associate Editor
There was a time when the best art galleries and museums could only be found in the largest of cities. Today, however, small towns are developing their own tourist attractions that are well worth seeing. Yet, with human nature being what it is, we often overlook our own museums and historic sites that are in close proximity. With springtime now upon us, I thought this would be good time for an overview of sites well worth seeing. And, the more unusual the exhibits - all the better!
The history of the Piedmont region of Georgia can be found in exhibits in the imposing Morgan- Madison Cultural Center on South Main. This beautiful building, a graded public school until 1957, underwent extensive renovations several years ago and re-opened as a community cultural center in 1976. An arts and crafts gallery with antique furniture from the late 19th and early 20th centuries remains on permanent display along with the circa 1856 Boxwood Parlor Furniture Exhibit. There are 19th Century history collections and children will especially enjoy “the 1895 classroom experience” featuring original desks, lunch pails, and McGuffie readers.
Also, of special note, the MMCC will soon be celebrating its 40th Anniversary with special events. The community is invited to a free opening reception on April 28 from 6 to 8 p.m. Newer exhibits are portraying “the role that the arts, humanities, performances, education, community, individuals, and the building have played in the identity of the MMCC from 1976 until today.”
The African-American Museum on Academy Street is another site with interesting art and artifacts, and photographic and family displays focusing on the historic life and times of African Americans in Morgan County. And, for fine art lovers, there is the Madison Museum of Fine Art, downtown, and the Steffen Thomas Museum of Art on Bethany Road in Buckhead. The Thomas museum is housed in a large 13,000 square foot building showcasing hundreds of paintings, sculptures, mosaics, and major works of the popular artist. Educational programs and special exhibitions are offered throughout the year as well with selections of art changing frequently.
The Georgia Writers Museum in downtown Eatonton promotes the rich literary heritage of our region with permanent exhibits focused on Lake Country’s most famous writers - Alice Walker, Flannery’s O’Connor and Joel Chandler Harris. A variety of literary artifacts and the books of other Georgia writers are also shown on a rotating basis. Museum speakers have included Terry Kay, author of “To Dance With the White Dog,” and, on April 23 from 2 to 4 p.m., Vince Dooley will offer a lecture and books signing. The legendary UGA football coach is introducing his new book containing the Civil War letters of Lt. Col. William G. Deloney of Cobb’s Georgia Legion of Cavalry, published by Mercer University Press.
The history of Eatonton and Putnam County is spotlighted at the Old School History Museum in the Plaza Arts Center. This museum is located in a beautifully restored 1916 school building located in the very heart of town on North Madison Avenue. Visitors will first enter a recreated vintage drugstore, complete with marble-topped soda fountain, ice cream chairs and tables and a 1940s juke box. Next, a “windows in time” room recreates earlier Eatonton storefronts to include the Pex Theater, Wooten’s Barber Shop and other downtown stores from the past. Visitors then move through the largest gallery featuring displays of early Native American culture, life during the Civil War and the transition of the region from frontier and cotton land into the 20th Century. Photographs of Eatonton teachers, Putnam County sports teams and period scenes are displayed on the walls of the center. Also, an original 1900s classroom has been preserved with original desks, blackboards, cloakroom and student memorabilia.
Our region’s newest museum is the Lake Country Discovery Museum located in the Bank South building on the Lake Oconee Parkway, Greensboro. Most impressive is the huge 8 x 10 foot scale model topographic map showing Lake Oconee and surrounding areas. Large rooms include interactive media displays, historical photographs, educational videos, Native American artifacts and informational kiosks. This is an ideal place to find local maps, area guidebooks and informational material about “things to do” in the area.
This overview of museums not to miss is a sampling; others will be mentioned in the near future. And, if you have a chance, please try to support these special places and visit them often. If you can, take a child with you!
(Editor's addendum) Here's a tour of the Louvre brought to free of charge by the Lake Oconee News.