Best art museums in Atlanta: discovering the city's artistic wonders

Whether you want to learn about African American history at APEX, discover local artists at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Atlanta’s art museums offer inspiration by the bucket.

Atlanta is a thriving hub for travelers looking to explore the culture and learn about the history of Georgia. Art museums are plentiful here, from the High Museum of Art, whose exhibitions offer a visual feast, to the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, where you can explore artistic expression and learn about the cultural significance of art. If you’re here with children, try quirky alternatives like the World of Coca–Cola, or the Center for Puppetry Arts. The museums are some of the best places in the city, so here are the top 10 museums in Atlanta.

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1. Explore the artistic expression of various cultures at the High Museum of Art

The High Museum of Art encompasses over 18,000 artworks, and is particularly known for its 19th– and 20th–century American decorative arts, folk and self–taught art, modern and contemporary art, and photography. Don't forget to check out the workshops or art-making activities.

Highlights:

From the porcelain white architecture of the High Museum of Art building to the interior furnishings, the museum is a masterpiece.

Address and opening hours:

1280 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00 AM-5:00 PM, and Sundays, 12:00 PM-5:00 PM.

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2. Discover the work of local artists at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)

MOCA, near the Northside BeltLine, is dedicated to showcasing artworks by local artists. You can find over 1,400 diverse art pieces in the permanent collection, including sculptures, paintings, and photography.

Highlights:

Discover solo and group artists' dynamic and ever-changing exhibitions. With each exhibition and thought-provoking show, you’ll appreciate the diverse artistic journeys of local talents.

Address and opening hours:

75 Bennett St NW, Atlanta, GA 30309. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 12:00 PM-5:00 PM.

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3. Visit the Michael C. Carlos Museum

Located between Emory University and Fernbank Museum of Natural History is the Michael C. Carlos Museum, which dates back to 1876.  Boasting one of the largest ancient art collections in the Southeast, it includes evocative art from ancient civilizations such as Egypt, Greece, and Rome, and the 20th century.

Highlights:

The Carlos is home to more than 10 Egyptian mummies, including the oldest one in the Americas. Highlights from other permanent collections include one of the earliest bathtubs in the world from Bronze Age Greece, traditional African masks, and gilded Buddha statues.

Address and opening hours:

571 South Kilgo Cir NE, Atlanta. Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10:00 AM-4:00 PM.

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4. Attend an art event at Atlanta Contemporary Art Center

A short distance from Georgia Tech is the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, first established as a grassroots artists' cooperative. Attend art events – some are suitable for children – to view temporary exhibitions and interact with other art enthusiasts.

Highlights:

After you’ve explored the Center, don’t miss the gift shop; it specializes in artist-made and locally produced merchandise such as art books, including Nexus Press Books, exhibition catalogs, artist-made jewelry and artist multiples, as well as rare recordings. Then continue exploring the contemporary art scene of Atlanta with a street art tour.

Address and opening hours:

535 Means St NW, Atlanta. Open on Wednesday, 12:00 PM-5:00 PM.

Best design museums in Atlanta

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5. Explore ancient designs at the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA)

Located in the vibrant Midtown area, which can be explored on a city tour by electric car, the Museum of Design Atlanta is the leading museum for design. Explore its impact on the history and economic activities of the region.

Highlights:

Browse exhibitions on architecture, interiors and furniture, graphics, and industrial product designs. The museum uses video games and storytelling media to showcase the history of design.

Address and opening hours:

1315 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta. Open Tuesday-Sunday, 12:00 PM-7:00 PM.

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6. Stop by the SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion

If you are a fashion enthusiast, the SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film, near Ansley Park is a must-visit attraction in Atlanta. It celebrates the art of fashion through events, films, and cutting-edge exhibitions showcasing the intersection of design, art, and fashion.

Highlights:

Discover the exquisite collection of textiles, accessories, and garments that spans diverse cultures and centuries. You’lll find a comprehensive exploration of fashion as an art form.

Address and opening hours:

1600 Peachtree Rd NW, Atlanta. Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10:00 AM-5:00 PM.

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7. Discover temporary exhibitions at Atlanta History Center

Atlanta History Center doesn't just explore the history of the South; it is one of the popular art galleries in Atlanta, showcasing art and design from different communities.

Highlights:

Trace the social, economic, and cultural development through artifacts, artworks, and live performances. You can also check out the Margaret Mitchell House on the museum grounds.

Address and opening hours:

130 W Paces Ferry Rd NW, Atlanta. Open Tuesday-Sunday, 9:00 AM-4:00 PM.

Alternative museums in Atlanta

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8. Enjoy interactive exhibits at World of Coca-Cola

While World of Coca-Cola doesn't showcase art, the interactive exhibits are definitely worth a visit. Discover the history of Coca-Cola and sample different varieties of one of the world’s most famous soft drinks.

Highlights:

Check out the pop culture gallery for immersive experiences like the Magic Mural, displaying the work of talented female illustrators.

Address and opening hours:

121 Baker St NW, Atlanta. Open daily, 10:00 AM-7:00 PM.

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9. Learn about African–American history at APEX Museum

Get a panoramic view of African–American history and culture through art at the APEX Museum. The museum accurately interprets and presents history from an African–American perspective.

Highlights:

Explore exhibitions showcasing the untold stories of African–American people. Permanent exhibits include the Sweet Auburn Street of Pride and The African Holocaust.

Address and opening hours:

135 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 11:00 AM-3:00 PM.

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10. Attend a live show at the Center for Puppetry Arts

For a unique art museum, visit the Center for Puppetry Arts, dedicated to puppets and puppeteers, like the famous Jim Henson. The museum presents puppets from different centuries and collections from various films and there are regular live shows.

Highlights:

The Jim Henson Gallery explores the imaginative mind and influential legacy of the animator, inventor, filmmaker, screenwriter, and puppeteer Jim Henson. The gallery includes puppets, props, and costumes from Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and more.

Address and opening hours:

1404 Spring St NW, Atlanta. Open Tuesday-Sunday, 9:00 AM-5:00 PM.

FAQs

Are there any free-entry days for art museums in Atlanta?

Some museums have free entry days with special events. The High Museum of Art offers free admission with special family events on the second Sunday of each month. Admission is free on the first weekend of each month, and children under six don't pay an entry fee.

What are some unique and lesser-known art museums worth visiting in Atlanta?

The Oglethorpe University Museum of Art (OUMA) is small and liberal, with 420 objects from seven centuries. It is a rarely visited museum, but it has interesting exhibitions. Another hidden gem is the Patch Works Art & History Center, which displays local treasures and artworks from diverse local artists. Cat Eye Creative is a historic building with unique art, from graffiti to oil paintings.

Which art museums in Atlanta have works by famous artists?

The collections in galleries and art museums in Atlanta feature incredible pieces like The Veiled Rebekah sculpture by Giovanni Maria Benzoni; Autumn on the Seine by Claude Monet; The Sea from Capri by William Stanley Haseltine; and Lola de Valence by Edouard Manet.

Are the art museums in Atlanta wheelchair accessible?

Most museums in Atlanta are wheelchair accessible, such as the Michael C. Carlos Museum. The High Museum of Art's interior space is also wheelchair accessible, including galleries and museum shops. Most art museums in Atlanta are on ground floors, and visitors can use ramps to access the entrances and ramps to get to higher floors.

Are there any art museums in Atlanta that are suitable for children and families?

Most art museums in Atlanta are family-friendly, and some have events and play areas for children. The Children's Museum of Atlanta, the Center for Puppetry Arts, Illuminarium Atlanta, and the World of Coca-Cola are all recommended for children.