Georgia’s “Museum City” marks a milestone anniversary

A quick guide to Cartersville's big three

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Booth Western Art Museum
According to photographer Barbara Van Cleve, “a woman’s work on a ranch is simply what needed to be done.”

Photograph by Barbara Van Cleve

It has been 20 years since the Booth Western Art Museum—the world’s largest permanent exhibition space for Western art—opened in Cartersville, helping earn the town the nickname “Museum City.” Both the Booth and Tellus Science Museum, founded back in 1983 as the Weinman Mineral Museum, are Smithsonian Affiliates. At the end of 2021, another major attraction, the Savoy Automobile Museum, opened, giving Cartersville three blockbuster institutions—not to mention more than half a dozen smaller museums like the Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center. Here’s a quick guide to the big three—with shows to catch before they close, and ones you have a little more time to get to:

Booth Western Art Museum

Don’t assume this facility only highlights the sterotypical cowboy. In fact, up until about a month ago, you could have seen poet Langton’s Hughes’s likeness and words—“Let America be America again. / Let it be the dream it used to be / Let it be the pioneer on the plain. / Seeking a home where he himself is free.”—stitched onto a sturdy quilt atop the red, white, and blue of the American flag. Part of the traveling exhibition Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West, which explores Black presence on the frontier beyond cowboy tropes, 50 pictorial quilts took up residence in the Booth for the first half of 2023. Its permanent collection of paintings, sculptures, artifacts, and photography focuses on themes of the Civil War and American West, with works by notables like Frederic Remington, Charles Russell, and Andy Warhol.Booth Western Art MuseumCatch soon Barbara Van Cleve: Women of the West highlights women’s experiences on the frontier through 78 black-and-white images taken from 1986 to 2014. The photographer particularly explores the work of women, who weren’t exempt from any task, from sewing to branding. • Through October 15

Catch later For We Set Our Faces Westward: One Woman’s Journey 1839–1848, artist Heide Presse studied journals written by Keturah Penton Belknap depicting a real-life “Oregon Trail.” The exhibition begins with Belknap’s marriage and covers her family’s journey out West. • Through December 31

Tellus Science Museum

Less than 10 miles north of the Booth Museum, Tellus dedicates 120,000 square feet to four galleries featuring minerals, fossils, science in motion, and backyard science. Explore space in the 120-seat digital planetarium or gaze at the stars through a 20-inch telescope. There are also life-size replicas of an 80-foot apatosaurus (a long-necked dino with a whiplike tail) and a Wright Flyer.

Catch soon Tellus’s cleverly dubbed Treasures of NOAA’s Ark explores the history of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and its dedication to maritime heritage, coastal navigation, studying fisheries, and environmental science. Artifacts include 18th-century maps, charts, and scientific instruments. • Through October 29

Catch later The hands-on and interactive Electricity: Powering the World exhibit explores how electricity is generated. Try your hand at making electricity to power lightbulbs or completing an electrical circuit. Less hands-on, but equally important: Learn ways to conserve electricity at home. • Through February 25, 2024

Savoy Automobile Museum

The spectacular Savoy offers constantly changing exhibits, which encourage visitors to walk all the way around vehicles. It attracted more than 100,000 visitors in its first 12 months, thanks to early exhibits like Built for a Crisis—which showcased domestic cars built in response to the 1973 oil embargo and in competition with smaller foreign cars.

Catch now 75 Years of Porsche, curated by automotive historian Ken Gross, showcases some of the significant and iconic models produced by Porsche—from the 1955 Porsche 356 Continental (on loan from the Ingram Collection in Durham, North Carolina) to the 2007 Porsche 997.1 GT3 RS (on loan from Steven Harris in New York). • Through July 30

Catch later Evolution of Bigfoot tracks the evolution of the original monster truck, introduced in 1975—to Bigfoot #20, the first electric monster truck, which debuted in 2012. • October 3, 2023–February 4, 2024

This article appears in our July 2023 issue.

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