Located on 33 wooded acres in the heart of Buckhead just off Peachtree Street, the Atlanta History Center is one of the city's top attractions. The museum features permanent and rotating exhibitions on everything from the city's railroad origins to its role in the Civil War, extensive gardens, historic homes and year-round programming like lectures, book signings and hands-on experiences for children and adults alike. Here's your guide to the center's origins, exhibits, programming, hours and location as well as the best things to do while you're in the neighborhood.
Founded in 1926 as the Atlanta Historical Society, the original organization was dedicated to preserving the city's history through lectures, journal articles, research and the collection of artifacts. In 1990, the society and its holdings officially became the Atlanta History Center, which opened on its current campus in 1993 with five permanent exhibitions, including its first dedicated to the city's history: "Metropolitan Frontiers." Since then, the museum has expanded to six permanent exhibitions, a research library, extensive gardens and historical structures.
What to See and Do
In the main gallery, explore one of the six permanent exhibitions, starting with "Locomotion: Railroads and the Making of Atlanta." The gallery's centerpiece is the restored locomotive Texas, built in 1856 for the Western & Atlantic Railroad, which established its terminus in 1837 at the site that eventually became the city of Atlanta. Other exhibits include "Turning Point: The American Civil War," about the Atlanta Campaign of 1864 and its role in the war; "Shaping Traditions: Folk Arts in a Changing South," a collection of 500 artifacts ranging from pottery to musical instruments and the Cyclorama, a 360-degree panoramic painting of the Battle of Atlanta.
Additional activities include tours of the 1928 pre-Depression era mansion, Swan House, an original 19th century log cabin, the 22 acre Goizueta Gardens and Atlanta’s oldest surviving farmhouse, Smith Family Farm, which includes hands-on demonstrations of foodways, crafts and carpentry.
Need a quick jolt of java to fuel your visit? Brash Coffee, one of the city's best coffee shops, has an outpost here. You can also catch a bite to eat at fast-casual favorite Souper Jenny's, inside the museum or enjoy a traditional Southern tea and the famous chicken salad at the adjacent Swan Coach House.
While not physically on the property, the Atlanta History Center also manages the Margaret Mitchell House, which is located 5 miles south at 10th and Peachtree Streets in Midtown. You can purchase admission to both museums at the main campus in Buckhead.
How to Visit
The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5:30 p.m. The historic homes on the property operate from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
All inclusive tickets, which include the main museum plus the Margaret Mitchell House are $21.50 for adults, $18 for seniors (65+), $18 for students (13+), $9 for youth (ages 4-12) and free for children (3 and under). Admission to just the Margaret Mitchell House is $13 for adults, $10 for seniors, $10 for students, $5.50 for youth and free for children.
Both active duty and retired military personnel receive free admission with a valid ID and from Memorial Day to Labor Day, all active duty military receive free admission for up to six adults.
How to Get There
The Atlanta History Center is located at 130 West Paces Ferry Road between surface roads Peachtree Street and Northside Drive and is also accessible via GA-400 N and S as well as I-75 N and S.
What to Do Nearby
In addition to a dose of history, the Buckhead neighborhood offers plenty of activities for visitors. For retail enthusiasts, Buckhead Atlanta offers luxury shopping with apparel, home and beauty brands ranging from Dior, Tom Ford and Billy Reid to Diptyque and Nars, while nearby Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza are two of the city's best shopping malls. Buckhead is also a top dining destination, offering everything from romantic restaurants to family fare, international food and more. Visit our guide to the neighborhood's best restaurants here.
Located just south of Buckhead, Midtown offers everything from world class museums like the High Museum of Art and the Center for Puppetry Arts as well as the Atlanta Botanical Garden and Piedmont Park, the city's largest green space.