Best museums in Atlanta that are worth your time

Learn about civil rights movements at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, or discover contemporary art at the High Museum of Art; here are the 15 best museums in Atlanta.

Ever wondered where you can trace the roots of civil rights while also marveling at a giant whale heart? Atlanta's got the answer. From contemporary art that'll make you tilt your head (and snap a pic) to historic homes whispering tales of yesteryears, there's a museum here with your name on it.

Atlanta played a decisive role in the civil war and civil rights movements, and you can travel back in time through the landmarks such as Oakland Cemetery. Learn about the civil rights movements at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, or visit Martin Luther King, Jr.’s childhood home at the Historical Park devoted to his life.

There are plenty of museums that are great for kids, too, from exploring the World of Coca–Cola, or watching a puppet show at the Center for Puppetry Arts.

Explore ancient fossils and prehistoric cultures at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History and visit The Atlanta History Center, with its enchanting gardens and historic houses, to learn more about the city’s culture and history. Here are the 15 best museums in Atlanta.

Best history museums in Atlanta

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1. Learn about civil rights movements at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park

The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park is among the best museums in Atlanta to learn about the civil rights movement. There are several significant buildings on the site, and the visitor center contains a museum which chronicles this important movement's history.

Highlights:

A dedicated driving tour explores historic sites associated with the civil rights movements. Visit Martin Luther King Jr.'s childhood home and the original Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Address and opening hours:

450 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta. Open Monday-Saturday, 9:00 AM-5:00 PM.

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2. National Center for Civil and Human Rights

The National Center for Civil and Human Rights explores the present and civil rights movements, and you’ll discover exhibitions and films that explore their history.

Highlights:

The museum features three permanent exhibits showcasing papers and artifacts of Martin Luther King Jr. and stories of human rights struggles.

Address and opening hours:

100 Ivan Allen Jr Blvd NW, Atlanta. Open Tuesday-Sunday, 12:00 PM-5:00 PM.

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3. Discover decorative art at Atlanta History Center

Explore award-winning exhibitions at the heart of the Buckhead district by visiting the Atlanta History Center. The in-house exhibitions are mainly of decorative visual artistry and military history.

Highlights:

Tour the Margaret Mitchell House, former home of the Gone With the Wind icon. The Swan House and Smith Family Farm on site are also interesting places to visit.

Address and opening hours:

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

Best art museums in Atlanta

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4. Discover contemporary art at the High Museum of Art

The High Museum of Art is a must-visit attraction for art lovers. Explore the impressive collection of art pieces dating from multiple centuries, including American, decorative, design, modern, and contemporary art.

Highlights:

You can stop as part of a city tour to explore the decorative arts and design pieces. The museum itself is a captivating piece of art piece, with its iconic white façade and striking contemporary design.

Address and opening hours:

1280 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta. Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10:00 AM-5:00 PM.

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5. Watch a puppet show at the Center For Puppetry Arts

The Center For Puppetry Arts is a famous museum in Atlanta dedicated to puppets and puppeteers, particularly Jim Henson. Discover puppets from diverse periods and countries across the world and explore the collections from The Dark Crystal and The Muppets films.

Highlights:

The museum often has live performances. You can also create puppets in the classroom space for workshops.

Address and opening hours:

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

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6. Get a panoramic view of African American History at the APEX museum

Situated in the historic Sweet Auburn district is the APEX Museum, dedicated to preserving the history and culture of African–Americans and founded in 1978 by film–maker Dan Moore. It is listed on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail, and it aims to help all American and international visitors better understand and appreciate the contributions of African–Americans to America, as well as the world.

Highlights:

Visit the APEX museum to get a comprehensive understanding of African– Americans through culture, personal stories, and achievements.

Address and opening hours:

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

Best design museums in Atlanta

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7. SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion

Celebrate the art of fashion by perusing cutting-edge exhibitions, forums, films, and events at the SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion. History lovers and fashion enthusiasts will be fascinated by the power of style.

Highlights:

Join the museum in celebrating creativity and exploring exhibitions showcasing the intersection of design, fashion, and art spanning multiple cultures and centuries.

Address and opening hours:

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

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8. Explore design exhibitions at the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA)

Billed as the only museum in the Southeast devoted exclusively to the study and celebration of all things design, the Museum of Design Atlanta examines how design affects people's daily lives through exhibitions, educational outreach, and adult programming.

Highlights:

Discover exhibitions on industrial product designs, architecture and interiors, and furniture, and delve into the power of storytelling to understand the designs that shaped Atlanta's culture and economy.

Address and opening hours:

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

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9. Explore works by local artists at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia

MOCA is a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate dedicated to collecting and exhibiting works by local artists, making it a prominent contemporary museum in the region. The permanent collection started with 250 works by Georgia artists.

Highlights:

Since the museum has an ever-changing art collection, you will find work that uses various media, such as prints, sculptures, photography, and paintings.

Address and opening hours:

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

Best science museums in Atlanta

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10. Stop by Michael C. Carlos Museum

Located at Emory University, Michael C. Carlos Museum specializes in Egyptian antiquities. The unique displays of mummies make it a must-visit; explore Egyptian art and learn about its evolution through the centuries.

Highlights:

Get a peek into the mummification process and the history of mummies. The display also includes the coffins of Tanakhtnettahat and Nebetit.

Address and opening hours:

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

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11. Enjoy exhibits at Delta Flight Museum

Delta Flight Museum showcases aircraft and artifacts from Delta and other airlines. It explores aviation history and technology, including restored aircraft and the historic Boeing 767, The Spirit of Delta.

Highlights:

Spend your afternoon learning about aircraft and various technologies. The museum is housed in two 1940s-era hangars providing a memorable experience to learn about the aircraft restoration process.

Address and opening hours:

1060 Delta Blvd, Hapeville, GA. Open Thursday-Tuesday, 10:00 AM-4:00 PM.

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12. Check out dinosaurs at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History

The Fernbank Museum of Natural History is an emporium of natural exhibits, making it an exciting family-friendly place to visit. Explore science, natural history, and human culture through pre-historic collections like real fossils, gems, and other artifacts.

Highlights:

At the entrance are dinosaur skeletons, which are the most popular attractions. You can also stop by the IMAX theater at the museum and watch 3D movies.

Address and opening hours:

767 Clifton Rd, Atlanta. Open daily, 10:00 AM-5:00 PM.

Alternative museums in Atlanta

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13. Explore the World of Coca-Cola

Sample flavors, win prizes and watch films showcasing the history of one of the world’s most famous soft drinks at the World of Coca–Cola. Experience interactive videos to understand the versatility and development of this fizzy beverage, and enjoy sampling the goods.

Highlights:

You’ll also receive insights into the contributions of the Coca-Cola brand to pop culture.

Address and opening hours:

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

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14. Visit the Historic Oakland Cemetry

The Historic Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta has a sculpture and botanical garden, and a public park. Learn about the history of the great men and women buried in the oldest cemetery in the city, including “Gone with the Wind” author Margaret Mitchell, and golfer Bobby Jones.

Highlights:

Explore the sculptures or the botanical garden as you stand in the midst of Atlanta's history. Oakland Cemetery also hosts events and festivals from time to time.

Address and opening hours:

248 Oakland Ave SE, Atlanta. Open daily, 24 hours.

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15. The home of Martin Luther King Jr.

Get a chance to visit where Martin Luther King Jr. was born and raised. Learn the history of his birthplace and the international civil rights walk of fame, showcasing civil rights activists' footprints in bronze and granite.

Highlights:

On a self–guided civil rights audio walking tour, you’ll explore sites associated with Martin Luther King Jr. The detailed guide has stories about MLK, his speeches, the Ebenezer Baptist church, and his tomb.

Address and opening hours:

501 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta. Open Monday-Saturday, 10:00 AM-4:00 PM.

FAQs

What are the must-visit museums in Atlanta?

The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park is one of the most famous museums in Atlanta and a must-visit for history enthusiasts. Learn about the civil rights movements and visit where Martin Luther King was raised. The High Museum of Art has an appealing exterior in white and impressive architecture. The collection of exhibitions and artworks from the early 19th and 20th centuries makes it the perfect spot for art lovers.

Are there any free museums in Atlanta?

The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site offers free admission. You can do self-guided tours of iconic sites to learn about civil rights movements. Young people below 16 years can access the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum for free. Atlanta History Center has free admission the first weekend of every month.

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

The Center For Puppetry Arts is a great place for children to learn about puppets through live shows and historical exhibitions. The High Museum of Art has special activities, and families can participate in the events. Kids will also enjoy the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Illuminarium Atlanta, and World of Coca-Cola.

For which museums in Atlanta are guided tours recommended?

If you want in-depth information on the history of civil rights movements, tour the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. A guide will provide insights into the history of the civil rights movements and walk you through the life of MLK.

Are there any museum passes or discount cards available for visiting multiple museums in Atlanta?

You can find an Atlanta CityPass that gives you discounts on popular attractions around the city. With the pass, you enjoy significant savings on five major attractions in Atlanta.