In addition to fantastic local restaurants, boutiques and outdoor adventures, Columbus, Georgia is home to some of the most engaging and well-curated museums in the country. With activities suitable for all age groups, we’ve rounded out the top 3 must-see museums for your Columbus itinerary.
One of the largest cultural centers in the Southeast, The Columbus Museum is unique for its dual concentration on American art and regional history. With interactive exhibits and displays suitable for the whole family, the 13-acre site allows visitors to relive times past and experience the history of the Lower Chattahoochee River Valley.
As you wander the halls on your guided or self-led tour, be sure to visit the Chattahoochee Legacy Gallery for a chance to examine archeological marvels that include a turn of the century schoolhouse, an urban slave cabin, a 20th century army tent, and a true-to-size diorama of an ancient Native American dwelling. After that, step back in time with Albert Bierstadt’s romantic paintings of sweeping western landscapes, and listen as his brush strokes tell you the story of the 19th century Westward Expansion.
Once you’ve taken in the beauty of Bierstadt’s towering mountains and wind-swept prairies, take some time to enjoy the neoclassical style of the most fashionable portrait painter of the middle colonies, Charles Wilken Peale - known for portraits that include George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams.
Or perhaps you prefer abstract expressionists of the 20th century? If so, then you don’t want to miss Leonore “Lee” Krasner’s contribution to The Columbus Museum’s collection of notable American artwork. One of the few female artists to have had a retrospective show at the Museum of Modern Art, Lee Krasner is known not only for her paintings, but also for her charcoal drawings and occasional mosaics.
Round out your tour of paintings, sculptures and decorative arts from the colonial period to the present by enjoying the jazz-influenced, proto pop art of Stuart Davis and the wooden wall pieces and outdoor sculptures masterfully designed by Louise Nevelson.
And once you’ve returned to the present, there’s nothing more relaxing than unwinding in the beauty of the Bradley Olmstead Garden with your friends and family. More details
Next on our list of must-see museums is Columbus’ National Infantry Museum (NIM). Honoring the legacy and valor of the U.S. Army Infantrymen, the NIM is home to more than 70,000 unique artifacts, the WWII Company Street and Vietnam Memorial Plaza. Each gallery offers up a unique and truly emotional experience as you become acquainted with the lives and sacrifices of ordinary American citizens who gave up everything to defend the nation that they loved. The museum staff is passionate about the history they safeguard, and combined with their knowledge, the detailed and emotionally-charged exhibits will leave you with a deep appreciation for the individuals and events that made the America we cherish possible. The sacrifices made by our soldiers throughout the centuries are captured here and celebrated to perfection, going so far as to ensure that every soldier figure throughout the museum is modeled after actual men who served in the Civil War.
The NIM places great value on education. In addition to the interactive kiosks and exhibits placed throughout the galleries, the NIM hosts annual day camps each summer designed for children interested in learning more about our nation’s history. And nearly every Thursday and Friday, children’s author Kathy Maggart can be found in the museum lobby with her memorable book, The 1947 Freedom Train.
And don’t forget to visit the Giant Screen Theatre to take a 3D adventure through our country’s national parks! The National Infantry Museum offers all of this, and more. Allow yourself to be transported to the years preceding the Revolutionary War, and travel through time with numerous artifacts, exhibits and interactive displays that are sure to engage seasoned historians and inquisitive children alike. This nationally-recognized, state-of-the-art museum experience is not to be missed. More details
Rounding out our top three is another one for the history buffs. The National Civil War Naval Museum is home to the largest surviving Confederate warship, the CSS Jackson, as well as the wreckage of the CSS Chattahoochee. Among the many artifacts on display, you will find the largest collection of Civil War Naval-related flags in the country, as well as exhibits that will take you through the war’s most notable naval events.
With a range of events hosted throughout the year including museum theatre and historic character interpretation, living history events, tours, cannon firings, weapons demonstrations, and local history projects, there is something to peak the interest of every visitor.
So whether you’re a history enthusiast, an art critic or simply interested in learning more about local and national history, Columbus’ museums offer activities, exhibits and interactive displays sure to engage the whole family. More details