High Museum of Art
1280 Peachtree St. NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
Price: $11 – $18
Hours: Tues to Wed and Fri to Sat – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thurs – 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sun – 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The High Museum is Atlanta’s top art destination and one of the most visited museums in the world. For an Atlantan, the “Calder Mobile” in front of the High Museum of Art becomes emblematic of the museum itself. There is also another high profile outdoor sculpture here, “The Shade” by Auguste Rodin, a gift from France. However, it’s Alexander Calder’s work that looms larger and more distinctive on Peachtree Street. Calder’s work is modern, recognizable and fitting for the museum.
Atlanta Cyclorama & Civil War Museum
800 Cherokee Ave. SE
Atlanta, GA 30315
Price: $8 – $10
Hours: Tues to Sat – 9:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
“The Cyclorama” is definitely a unique exhibit. This 400-foot oil painting is claimed as the largest in the world and its depiction of the Civil War’s Battle of Atlanta is truly epic. “The Cyclorama” was painted in 1885, a mere 20 or so years after the battle. Subsequent additions to the installation include a 30-foot diorama, viewable from a rotating platform. Statues of soldiers include a likeness of Clarke Gable, giving some visitors an impression of kitsch. Overall, however, this work’s massive size and subject matter remain impressive to any onlooker.
Confederate Memorial Carving
Stone Mountain Park
US Hwy. 78 E, Exit 8
Stone Mountain, GA 30087
Price: $21 – $27
Hours: Sun to Sat – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Stone Mountain’s bas-relief sculpture of Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis is another reminder of the Atlanta’s Confederate past. This monumental sculpture is three acres large. Sculptor Gutzom Borglum began the project before abandoning it for Mount Rushmore, and it took more than half of a century to be fully completed. In that time, the Daughters of the Confederacy and Klu Klux Klan lost their hold on local politics. They leave an ironic reminder of a different time for the contemporary visitors of the park. Thousands mark this huge sculpture each year.
Martin Luther King Jr. Statue
Morehouse College Chapel
830 Westview Dr. SW
Atlanta, GA 30314
A mirror reverse of Stone Mountain’s Confederate memorial is the statue of Martin Luther King Jr. at the Morehouse College Chapel. This comparably humble sculpture contrasts with the memorial in both scale and ideology. The location of this statue might surprise some Atlantans, since King’s legacy is distributed throughout the city. Tourists notice the airport exhibit, while locals note that King’s birth home and historic church act as museums in his honor. It is at Morehouse College, King’s alma mater, where this beautiful state resides. Though there is a sordid and controversial history of monuments devoted to Dr. King, this work is probably the most ideologically pure likeness in the city.
Related: Best Black History Events In Atlanta
The Sculptures of Centennial Olympic Park
265 Park Ave. NW
Atlanta, GA 30313
Hours: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The 1996 Summer Olympics had a profound effect on Atlanta, including a collection of buildings and sculptures that remind all that Atlanta is a city of the world. Take in the immense Tony Cragg “World Events” sculpture, or a life-sized likeness of Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the Olympic Committee. Scattered throughout the park are numerous other sculptures of Olympiad torches. In addition, the park is also decorated with donor labeled bricks, automated fountains and a small amphitheater. More than any one element, the entire park is an icon for Atlanta and the businesses which thrive around it.