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Atlanta History Center ~ Atlanta GA

The Atlanta History Center was the highlight of our first Atlanta trip.

The Atlanta History Center was immediately like an old friend, with 33 acres jam packed with a wonderful collection of local history. Visit the Atlanta History Museum, Centennial Olympic Games Museum, 6 different historical gardens, one of three historic houses: Swan House, Tullie Smith Farm or the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum in Midtown which is off-site. Since there is so much to see, we are going to break this into several reviews, as we highlight each one.

Watch the times carefully for the tours, especially if you want to get them all in on one afternoon!

Turning Point: The American Civil War

In the permanent collection at the Atlanta History Center, the "Turning Point" exhibit has captured the American Civil War. You walk in, and are immediately you walk transported to a different time and place. Over 1500 artifacts show the monumental struggle of the Civil War.

Turning Point begins in 1860, with the events leading up to the Civil War and progresses year by year through the conflicts and battles, through Lee's surrender, and the aftermath and final results of the war. 

We signed up for the tour and had the pleasure of a brilliant living historian guide us through the exhibit.  A student of history and fellow reenactor, he added bits of history and lore, showing us his books and personal items, housewife (a mending kit) and other items. He blended what we do in the field, within the setting of a museum and brought the Civil War to life. He was absolutely superb, one of the finest living historians ever!

The Civil War is, for the great American imagination, the great single event of our history....we became a nation only with the Civil War. Robert Penn Warren, Southern Writer 1961

The exhibit is one of the best Civil War exhibits we have seen. 

So often, the battles and the soldiers are the focus of Civil War exhibits. The Atlanta Museum of History has a large section focusing on the toll it took on the citizens, especially the Southerners. Winning the war taxed the reserves of those left on the homefront, the sacrifices and courage needed to face life with loved ones at war. Displays filled with quotes from diaries and letters fill one section. 

The Thomas Swift Dickey Civil War Ordinance Collection is one of the largest displays we have seen of the many different types of artillery shot by the various cannons and field artillery of the war.

"I would rather have my boy stand by my grave and say 'My father was wounded in the Wilderness, and fought with Phil Sheridan at Five Forks, and saw Lee surrender at Appomattox,' than to have him say that I was a millionaire, or a member of the United States Senate."Theodore Gerrish, Union Veteran 1882.

The human cost of the war was staggering, with 670,000 Americans dying.  50,000 Southern civilians died as a result of the devastation of the South. 260,000 Confederate States of America soldiers perished, 22% of the men of military age. The Union lost 360,000 soldiers, 7% of their population of men of military age dying.

The Atlanta History Center is looking to expand the Turning Point exhibit, and is in the process of purchasing the George W. Wray Jr. Civil War Collections, one of the largest private collections of Civil War artifacts. This would give the Atlanta History Center the largest collection of Civil War artifacts in the world. Your donation would greatly help the cause, an investment in a nation that can honor its past, without repeating its mistakes. Please contact the information below if you would like to give a donation of any kind to help them purchase the Wray collection.

The toll of the American Civil War was great, and the stories of those who sacrificed and gave their last full measure burns brightly in this amazing museum.

Living History Sites highly recommends the Atlanta History Center, it is life changing, and tell them the people at LivingHistorySites.com sent you. Plan at least half a day here - it is THAT good!

Atlanta History Center

130 West Paces Ferry Road
Atlanta, GA 30305


The all-inclusive general admission provides access to the Atlanta History Center, including the Atlanta History Museum, the Centennial Olympic Games Museum, the 1860 Tullie Smith Farm, the 1928 Swan House, and 33 acres of gardens

  • $15 for adults
  • $12 for seniors 65+ and students 13 and up
  • $10 for youths 4 to 12
  • Free for Members and children under 3

Museum Hours of Operation

Monday - Saturday: 10:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Sunday: Noon - 5:30 PM
Gardens and Grounds close at 5:15 PM

Swan House & Tullie Smith Farm House Tours
Monday - Saturday: 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Sunday: 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Holiday Hours of Operation

The Atlanta History Center is open 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM on Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Columbus Day.

The Atlanta History Center and the Kenan Research Center are closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.