Things to do in Atlanta

Museums Atlanta

Atlanta is an epicenter of amazing museums that celebrate the rich culture of America's Southeast. Here, we’ll look at the must-see Atlanta museums.

Atlanta is many things to many people. It's a vibrant, diverse party town, a showcase of performing arts excellence, and the metropolis of the American Southeast. It's also filled to the brim with the biggest and best museums of their kind in the region. These fun museums are an enlightening experience and one of the most eye-opening things to do in Atlanta.

1. High Museum of Art

One of the biggest and best in the elite company of museums in Atlanta is the High Museum of Art, also known as “the High.” Located in the city’s Midtown arts district on Peachtree Street, the High features Atlanta buildings designed by major names such as Richard Meier and Renzo Piano.

Within those buildings is a permanent collection of over 17,000 pieces of international and American art ranging from photography and decorative works to classical and historic art. It also has contemporary works from all over the world.

One of its most impressive collections is the Folk and Self-Taught Art Collection. This innovative collection shines a light on exciting and profound talents who didn’t go to art school. Visiting exhibitions include engrossing surveys of artistic history and striking contemporary art installations.

Photographer: Ranjith Alingal

2. Atlanta History Center

One of the largest historical institutions in the American Southeast and a leading museum in Atlanta, the Atlanta History Center sprawls across 33 acres in Buckhead. This century-old cultural center is full of award-winning exhibits and unique displays, artworks, and gardens.

It even showcases entire sites, such as the Swan House and the restored antebellum structures of the Smith Family Farm. The Center’s research library and archives contain over 5 million items. It hosts one of only two Cyclorama exhibits in America.

The painting at the heart of the Cyclorama experience provides a panoramic view of the Battle of Atlanta, along with an evocative accompanying multimedia experience.

3. Fernbank Museum of Natural History

Dinosaurs capture the soaring imaginations of children like nothing else. There’s something magical about these mighty beasts and the landscapes they roamed. One of Atlanta’s best, the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, provides a powerful window into the enchanted world of these creatures.

The dazzling outdoor Dinosaur Plaza is the first thing visitors encounter on arrival. Exhibits such as Giants of the Mesozoic and A Walk Through Time in Georgia provide their own views of this primordial existence. Even the museum’s interior floors have tens of thousands of fossils from as far back as the Jurassic period.

But there’s more to the Fernbank than dinosaurs. It provides 75 acres’ worth of outdoor adventure, with a range of special outdoor exhibits. The museum devotes many exhibits to science and human culture, both ancient and modern, and the NatureQuest children’s wing offers hands-on activities and live animal habitats.

It also hosts a vast saltwater aquarium, a STEAM lab, a rose garden, and a dining room with a hardwood forest view.

Photographer:Scott Fillmer

4. The King Center

There are few figures in American history as iconic as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose philosophy of nonviolent social change is the bedrock inspiration of the museum that celebrates his life and legacy. The King Center hosts beautiful monuments, including the Reflecting Pool and the Eternal Flame, that embody Dr. King’s practice.

It honors the continued work of new generations in carrying his message forward. The displays at Freedom Hall include art from Africa and Georgia, as well as exhibits dedicated to Dr. and Mrs. King, Mahatma Gandhi, and Rosa Parks. Tours show off the exhibits and monuments that appear throughout the 35-acre Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Park.

The Center’s library and archives contain texts dedicated to teaching the principles of nonviolent resolution. This kind of education is the living mission of the King Center, which supports a leadership academy and provides voter resources.

This is so much more than a leading museum in Atlanta. It’s an institution that carries forward the flame of Dr. King’s extraordinary ministry.


Many of the best Atlanta museums are the largest and finest examples of their type in the American Southeast. But MODA is unique. The Museum of Design Atlanta is the only art museum in the area devoted to design as an art form.

With unforgettable exhibits and inspiring educational programs designed to unlock students’ creativity, this institution explores all kinds of design. That includes everything from fashion, sound, architecture, interior design, and furniture design. MODA also explores the overlap between design and forms of music and popular culture.

Its accessible Midtown location makes it a popular destination for all ages. MODA provides adult programming and K-12 educational engagements for a new generation of brilliant minds. The sheer diversity of stimulating ideas and content means there’s always something fresh to discover on a new visit.

6. Michael C. Carlos Museum

Also known as the Carlos Museum, the Michael C. Carlos Museum is the oldest and one of the best museums in Atlanta. It’s particularly famous for its vast collection of ancient art pieces going all the way back to the Bronze Age. The museum features works from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome that are the envy of curators elsewhere.

Beyond its stunning permanent collection and temporary exhibitions, the Carlos also hosts traveling and themed exhibitions, providing plenty of superb learning opportunities for children and adults.

7. Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame

Whether you’re a college football fan or want to learn more about the game, the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame provides unique ways to immerse yourself in 150 years of thrilling athletic tradition. This museum provides over 90,000 square feet of exhibits and activities that revolve around the glories of the gridiron.

This includes a miniature indoor playing field, exhibitions that showcase artwork and other items related to the spectacular sport, and a wide variety of interactive displays that delve into the history of the game.

What makes this Hall of Fame stand out as one of the coolest museums in Atlanta is its use of RFID technology. Registering your pass lets you choose the helmet of a team you follow — or one that you want to learn more about.

The exhibits tailor themselves to that team as you journey through it. For example, it could show a video capturing legendary moments of triumph, defeat, elation, or adversity from past contests.

8. Children’s Museum of Atlanta

This unusual downtown Atlanta museum is all about the power of play and how it can trigger learning and exploration for children. Full of wide open spaces for frolicking and featuring six permanent exhibits, the Children’s Museum of Atlanta is a paradise of play for children up to the age of eight, although children as old as 12 will find something to enjoy.

Kids and parents can climb, build, paint, and learn in a series of inventive and immersive experiences that will delight both young and old.

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9. National Center for Civil and Human Rights

This museum of the human rights movement offers profound experiences. Many exhibits at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights provide visceral immersion in civil rights.

One of the most famous is the lunch counter sit-in simulator. Visitors experience the slurs and threats to protesters at the anti-segregation sit-ins in the ‘60s. There’s little wonder this simulator has the reputation it does. Even the brief preview sample of the audio provided on the Center’s site is intense.

Other exhibits include Rolls Down Like Water, the story of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. It was curated by director and playwright George C. Wolfe, along with handwritten journals and personal effects of Dr. King and more.

10. The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum

Another of the best and biggest of the American Southeast museums is the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum. This collection testifies to the extraordinary journey and indomitable spirit of Judaism in the South.

By far the Southeast United States’ largest repository of Jewish history, it hosts thousands of manuscripts collections, artifacts, and oral history, with over 50,000 images. This extensive collection documents the vivid horrors of the Holocaust — and other forms of antisemitic persecution — beside the triumphs of those who survived to build lives in the New World.

As the museum attests, the journey of Americanized Jews who arrived in America was just beginning.

11. Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (MOCA GA)

Reflecting Georgia’s artistic past and helping to shape its future is the Museum of Contemporary Art Georgia, also known as MOCA GA. Located in the Tula Art Center, it hosts a diverse permanent collection of over a thousand works by hundreds of artists.

These artists hail from the mid-1940s to the present, sometimes showing the nascent stages of their careers. Aside from that remarkable permanent collection, MOCA GA is a launching pad for bright new artists. It boasts a reputation as a showcase not just of where art in Atlanta has been, but also where it’s going.

The museum adds 50 pieces to its collections every year and continues to showcase new talent. Its significance for the artistic community grows each day.

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12. Atlanta Monetary Museum

One of Atlanta’s coolest museums for fans of the history of money is at the Federal Reserve Bank. The Atlanta Monetary Museum showcases the evolution of money from the days of trading shells, salt baskets, and throwing knives.

Visitors can go on a breathtaking journey through the history of America’s money and watch as early English shillings evolve into Civil War-era bills.

13. Delta Flight Museum

For aviation enthusiasts and those who are curious about the history of flight, the Delta Flight Museum is a must-see experience found beside a runway at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Dedicated to the history of Delta Airlines, it’s an immense facility that occupies a pair of 1940’s era hangars. Visitors can get up close and personal with the Queen of the Skies, Delta’s first-ever Boeing 747. The interiors of the planes have been outfitted as museum spaces showcasing the original cabling, infrastructure, decades of flight attendant garb, and more.

It also explores how the friendly skies of Delta became such a dominant presence in the airline industry. A thrilling interactive element comes into play with the ability to try out a Boeing 737 flight simulator.

Photographer:Scott Fillmer

14. Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum

One of America’s most loved and respected former Presidents and a favorite son of Georgia, Jimmy Carter is the topic of one of Atlanta’s best museums. The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum first opened in 1986. It’s full of interactive exhibits that prove presidential libraries don’t have to be dry and academic.

It contains an astonishing 27 million pages of White House documents and correspondence, a half-million photographs, and innovative exhibits, such as Day in the Life of a President, a fascinating audio-visual chronicle of Carter’s full day on December 11, 1978.

Experience Atlanta's Must-See Museums!

The sights we've listed here are just an introduction to the full riches of museums in Atlanta, GA. And while museums have a tendency to create a thirst for inquiry, our feats of acrobatics and storytelling are the perfect antidote.

While you’re in town, immerse yourself in the exciting dreamscape of one of our Atlanta shows. Our spellbinding performances and daring acrobatics will have you on the edge of your seat as you watch the unimaginable become reality right before your eyes.

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