Above: Courtesy of Delta Flight Museum

When you think of the word “museum,” does a big, dusty building come to mind? Think it must house endless rooms packed with inscrutable paintings, antique furniture or glass cases filled with exotic animals?

Well, think again. Metro Atlanta has its share of big museums, but there are plenty of smaller, specialized ones filled with surprising collections.

We’ve picked seven. They cover topics as varied as the history of money and the development of aviation. Looking for a change to see something amazing or simply to learn something new? Check out these little museums.


Atlanta Monetary Museum

Ever wonder just what a million bucks looks like? Or a bar of gold? You can find out in Midtown, where Atlanta’s Federal Reserve Bank houses a museum of everything to do with money. Museum displays recount the history of money from barter to bills and the history of banking in America. The history also showcases rare coins and currency and provides a look inside the Fed’s cash-processing operations, where millions of dollars are counted, sorted or shredded daily.

  • Location: 1000 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta 30309
  • Hours: Monday-Friday: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Group tours are offered by appointment Monday through Friday at 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
  • Tickets: Free. Guided tours, offered for groups of 10 to 30 people, must be booked in advance.
  • For more information: frbatlanta.org (Click on “About the Fed,” then “Tours,” then “Atlanta Monetary Museum.”)

Center for Puppetry Arts Puppet Museum

Mingle with Muppets and learn about puppets from around the world. The center for Puppetry Art’s museum provides a home to Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and other Jim Henson creations as well as displays highlighting the international history of puppetry. The center also offers regular puppet shows.

  • Location: 1404 Spring St. NW, Atlanta 30309
  • Hours: Tuesday-Friday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday: noon-5 p.m. Closed Mondays and major holidays.
  • Tickets: $12.50 for museum admission. $16.50 for museum admission and guided tours of the World of Puppetry collection.
  • More information: 404-873-3391, puppet.org
Courtesy of Michael C. Carlos Museum

Michael C. Carlos Museum

The Carlos Museum, located on Emory University’s campus, turns 100 next year, but its century barely compares to the antiquity of many of the items it houses. This museum provides a place to view some really old stuff: Egyptian mummies and coffins, Greek and Roman sculptures, Mayan carvings. The Carlos also hosts traveling shows, including one set to run until November on “divine felines,” cats in ancient Egypt.

  • Location: 571 South Kilgo Cir., Atlanta 30322 (on the campus of Emory University)
  • Hours: Tuesday-Friday: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday: noon-5 p.m. Closed Mondays and university holidays. Tours are offered at 2 p.m. on Sundays, excluding major holidays.
  • Tickets: $6 for seniors, students and visitors aged 6 to 17; $8 for adults; free for children aged 5 and younger, museum members and Emory University students, faculty and staff.
  • For more information: 404-727-4282, carlos.emory.edu

Delta Flight Museum

Up, up and away! The Delta Flight Museum occupies original 1940s-era Delta Air Lines hangars minutes from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The museum, started in 1995, promises a chance to check out historic aircraft dating to the 1920s; to see the only full-motion flight simulator open to the public in the United States (and to fly in it, if you’re 16 or older and are willing to pay $420 an hour for four people); and to learn the history of a company that started as a crop-dusting operation and grew into one of the world’s largest airlines.

  • Location: 1060 Delta Blvd., Bldg. B, Dept. 914, Atlanta 30354 (at Delta Air Lines’ headquarters)
  • Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Wednesday: closed; Sunday: noon-4:30 p.m.
  • Tickets: $12.50 for seniors; $15 for adults; $10 for ages 5 to 17; free for children aged 4 and younger.
  • For more information: 404-715-7886, deltamuseum.org

Gone with the Wind

Courtesy of Marietta Gone with the Wind Museum

Margaret Mitchell’s Civil War novel “Gone with the Wind” and the blockbuster movie it spawned are such a big deal in Atlanta that it has conjured not just one, but three metro museums dedicated to it.

In Marietta, the museum known as Marietta Gone with the Wind Museum: Scarlett on the Square boasts one of Vivien Leigh’s gowns from the movie, several of Mitchell’s own copies of the novel, promotional material from the movie and one of the movie scripts.

In Jonesboro, the Road To Tara Museum is located in the city’s old train depot and promises displays of items from the movie alongside Civil War artifacts, including a section of rail twisted into a “Sherman’s necktie.”

In Midtown, the Margaret Mitchell House allows visitors to see the place where “Peggy” Mitchell gave literary life to Scarlett, Rhett and the rest of the Tara crew.

Courtesy of Marietta Gone with the Wind Museum

Marietta Gone with the Wind Museum: Scarlett on the Square

  • Location: 18 Whitlock Ave., Marietta 30064
  • Hours: Monday-Saturday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Sundays and major winter holidays.
  • Tickets: $6 for seniors and students; $7 for adults; $5 each for groups of 15 or more.
  • For more information: 770-794-5576, gwtwmarietta.com

Road to Tara Museum

  • Location: 104 N. Main St., Jonesboro 30236
  • Hours: Monday-Friday: 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Saturday: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Closed Sundays and Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
  • Tickets: $6 for seniors and children aged 6 to 12; $7 for adults. Discounts for groups of 12 or more.
  • For more information: 770-478-4800, atlantastruesouth.com (Click “Gone with the Wind,” then “Road to Tara Museum.”)

Margaret Mitchell House

  • Location: 979 Crescent Ave. NE, Atlanta 30309
  • Hours: Monday-Saturday: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Sunday: noon-5:30 p.m. Opens at noon on July 4 and is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
  • Tickets: $10 for seniors and students; $13 for adults; $5.50 for visitors aged 4 to 12; and free to children 3 and younger.
  • For more information: 404-249-7015, atlantahistorycenter.com (Click on “Explore,” then “Destinations,” then “Margaret Mitchell House.”)

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.