Georgia’s Unique Museums

From Antebellum Southern tradition to Gullah Geechee culture; from presidential houses to prestigious golf tournaments – Georgia has something to meet everyone’s interest. And Georgia’s museums reflect that diversity. Here are five of Georgia’s most unique museums to explore while seeking out all that is interesting and offbeat:

Road to Tara Museum: In Jonesboro you can discover all you’d ever want to know about Gone With the Wind. Margaret Mitchell’s book was based in no small part off of her grandparents’ tales from a plantation just outside the city. The museum offers a glimpse into the story, combining the real history of the Civil War’s Atlanta Campaign and Battle of Jonesboro with Margaret Mitchell’s fictional tale and Hollywood’s Gone With the Wind. From tribute dolls of every character to Scarlett O’Hara’s underpants, this museum is the perfect stop for any fan of this timeless story of the South.Road to Tara Museum

Georgia Rural Telephone Museum: Housed in a renovated 1920s cotton warehouse in Leslie, this museum houses the world’s largest collection of telephones and telephone memorabilia. Here you’ll find the rarest examples of telecommunication stretching back to 1876, including presidential candidate Jimmy Carter’s two 1970s switchboards used during his campaign, the phone used to announce President McKinely had been shot in 1897 and even a jukebox phone!

Crawford W. Long Museum: Did you know the first use of ether as an anesthetic was by a Georgia surgeon? This Jefferson-located museum commemorates Dr. Long’s role in the development of one of the most important advances in medical procedures. Head to Jackson County to experience how this country doctor-turned-surgeon for the Confederacy became the ‘father of painless surgery.Crawford W. Long Museum

The Panoramic Encyclopedia of Everything Elvis: Why travel to Graceland or spend outrageous amounts of money seeing impersonators in Vegas when you can have everything Elvis here in Georgia!? Located on the third floor of the Loudermouth Boarding House (which is on the National Register of Historic Places) in Cornelia, this experience celebrates Elvis’s successes and well as his flaws. If you love The King, you have to check out Everything Elvis – it is, after all, the only museum to house a body part of his: the Elvis Wart.

Billy Carter Gas Station Museum: While Jimmy Carter was busy running the country, younger brother Billy was busy running a local gas station. The Plains establishment features some of the First Brother’s unique wardrobe choices, as well as many empty cans of the short-lived beer named for him: Billy Beer. The next time you’re visiting the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site, take a quick detour to experience the life of one of the best known presidential siblings.Billy Carter's Service Station Museum

Surprising Suburbs: Harlem

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Silly is good in the suburbs, especially when you choose little Harlem, Georgia.  Consider this a suburb of Augusta and Thomson in Columbia County, which Grammy winner Lady Antebellum calls home.

Laurel and Hardy pull raucous laughter out of thousands of visitors all year long, and by the thousands during the annual first Saturday in October festival tied to their museum in Harlem.  Movie dates are noisy, a cause and effect of laughter from the Laurel and Hardy Museum’s non-stop run of classic film.

Family travel builds bridges here, with some children seeing their first silly slapstick black-and-white short films; first wondering why their parents are stricken with the giggles, before contracting them, too. Laurel and Hardy films are a good counterbalance to the werewolf and vampire dominance in film-watching America today.

Laurel.Hardy.MuseumThe Laurel and Hardy Museum is a homey, unpretentious, sort of simple place with thousands of memorabilia items. Most everybody poses for a picture with Stan and Ollie in their car, known from their 1929 film “A Perfect Day.”

Museum docents are proud to tell this is the only Laurel and Hardy museum in America, and one of only three in the world. As such, it attracts visitors from all over. You don’t see signatures listing Saudi Arabia as home in just any museum guest book, but I did here. This idiosyncratic museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

You might consider staying overnight at nearby Red Oak Manor bed and breakfast. That will give you another day to watch more films and laugh longer.

horizonal tree through trees webBuilt in 1885, seven years before Norvell “Oliver” Hardy was born, Red Oak Manor has five guest rooms; the downstairs room and bath are handicap accessible. Two upstairs guest rooms have private baths, and two share one. Acorn is the name of the Manor’s restaurant with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Pass under centuries-old oak trees walking through the yard to the museum.

Christine 12. 2007 4Christine Tibbetts claimed Georgia as her home state in 1972.  She covers Georgia destinations, and the world, always offering prompts for exceptional experiences and opportunities to muse. Tibbetts earned a Bachelor of Journalism from the prestigious School of Journalism at the University of Missouri and is the recipient of numerous gold, silver and merit awards from North American Travel Journalists Association writing competitions. Follow her at www.TibbettsTravel.com.