Museum Visits for You and Your Kids
StaycationArts & Culture

Museum Visits for You and Your Kids

Check out these off-the-radar cultural destinations for your next staycation.

Chana Shapiro is an educator, writer, editor and illustrator whose work has appeared in journals, newspapers and magazines. She is a regular contributor to the AJT.

  • One of OUMA’s three galleries presents student art. Gallery visitors vote for their favorites.
    One of OUMA’s three galleries presents student art. Gallery visitors vote for their favorites.
  • A cash bus is used to transport money from the Fed’s vault
    A cash bus is used to transport money from the Fed’s vault
  • Pasta comes in all colors, sizes, and shapes – from the “Al Dente” exhibit at MODA
    Pasta comes in all colors, sizes, and shapes – from the “Al Dente” exhibit at MODA
  • “Al Dente: The Design of Pasta,” at MODA.
    “Al Dente: The Design of Pasta,” at MODA.
  • MODA is about all things design. This mannequin greets visitors.
    MODA is about all things design. This mannequin greets visitors.
  • Romaire Bearden painting in OUMA museum
    Romaire Bearden painting in OUMA museum
  • One of OUMA's galleries features “Contrapunto,” by a local Latino art collective.
    One of OUMA's galleries features “Contrapunto,” by a local Latino art collective.
  • Storytime poster for Museum of Design Atlanta
    Storytime poster for Museum of Design Atlanta

Stuck in town for a few days and need something fun to do to entertain the kids? How about checking out some of the off-the-radar cultural destinations? There are several lesser-known museums around the city that are well worth the price of admission. Read on to find out more about these entertaining and informative local hotspots.

The Oglethorpe Museum of Art Atlanta

OUMA, the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, is the only small liberal arts university museum in the Southeast that regularly shows national and internationally recognized exhibitions. OUMA has three small galleries, connected by an art-display hall and tiny gift shop. All shows are accompanied by excellent gallery notes. The following are the museum’s simultaneously running current spring exhibits:

Gallery One: Select pieces from the museum’s excellent permanent collection are rotated through this space. One goal of this gallery is to occasionally devote the full space to work by a single prominent contemporary artist, and these exhibitions are usually accompanied on campus by an artist-in-residence semester and community lectures. Another museum goal results in retrospective shows of significant artists with a strong southern connection.

From OUMA Latino exhibit

Gallery Two: “The Core Self” is a multimedia show that expresses the diversity of Oglethorpe University students. “The Core Self” assignment called for entries of “expressive works engaging with themes related to identity in a media of their preference,” including physical, digital, graphic art, poetry, and performance. During the show, visitors are encouraged to vote for favorite pieces. Awards will be given to OU students in the categories of Best of Show, Audience Choice, and Outstanding Core, reflecting the values outlined in the Core program.

Gallery Three: OUMA showcases “Contrapunto,” the final installation of a year-long series of Hispanic/Latino-focused exhibitions. The paintings, drawings, and sculptures in the Contrapunto show present a widely diverse group of styles, themes, and techniques, ranging from abstract to surrealist to moody portraits by this Atlanta-based group of six Latino artists, who have immigrated to the U.S. from five different countries. Gallery notes explain that the aim of the group: is “To increase contemporary Latin American artist representation in the Southeast and to support our members with opportunities for education, exhibitions, and residencies.”

The gallery notes continue, “The word ‘counterpoint’ (contrapunto in Spanish) is the technique of combining two or more melodic lines in such a way that they establish a harmonic relationship with retaining their linear individuality. As artists, we work together in a harmonious way—the best way to describe our dynamic was to use the musical term ‘counterpoint.’”

Admission to the OUMA museum is free. Ask to be put on their mailing list to find out about upcoming OUMA events in the arts. The museum is open Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday 12 noon to 5 p.m. Oglethorpe University is in Brookhaven, at 4484 Peachtree Road, NE, Atlanta, 30319. The OUMA museum is on the Oglethorpe campus. Go to Lowery Hall and take the elevator or stairs to the third floor. On-campus parking i s free.

The Federal Reserve Monetary Museum of Atlanta

A cash bus is used to transport money from the Fed’s vault

The U.S. Federal Reserve Bank, or “The Fed,” is The United States’ central banking system. It is the most powerful economic institution in the United States, perhaps, in the world. Its primary responsibilities include setting interest rates, managing our country’s money supply, and regulating financial markets.
A tour of the Atlanta Federal Reserve Museum will help visitors understand the necessity and power of the Federal Reserve Bank in the U.S. economy. The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, founded in 1914, represents the sixth district of the 12 Federal Reserve Banks of the United States. Its jurisdiction covers Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

Visitors to the Atlanta Federal Reserve Monetary Museum will see historical artifacts and follow the fascinating story of money—from bartering to modern times—including the early turbulent years of banking in this country. Rare coins and currency are on display, and one will learn why some high-value currency has been discontinued. In addition to the history of money, visitors can enjoy multimedia exhibits, and real-life close-up views into the amazing, automated vault, cash-processing, and shredded currency areas. One also learns about the “gold standard” and what gives money its value.

The displays, videos, and interactive “games” take an entertaining approach to learning about the Federal Reserve. Visitor favorites include lifting a gold bar, playing a game about interest rates, and how to spot counterfeit money. The Fed also offers workshops about economics concepts and personal finance.

Guided tours and self-guided museum visits can be arranged. There is no charge. For questions, phone 404-498-8500 or go to The Atlanta Fed is located at 1000 Peachtree St., NE, Atlanta, 30309, across from the 10th Street MARTA station.

MODA — The Museum of Design Atlanta

Pasta comes in all colors, sizes, and shapes – from the “Al Dente” exhibit at MODA

MODA is the only museum in the Southeast that is devoted exclusively to the study, appreciation, and universal impact of design. MODA is an intimate museum. After passing through the innovative gift shop, visitors learn how design influences just about every aspect of daily life, from clothing, architecture, and furniture to computer programs to indoor and outdoor places to relax or play.

MODA’s current show runs through Sept. 1. “Al Dente: The Design of Pasta,” is proof that design touches everything, even our food, opening our eyes to culinary oddities in the wide world of pasta with lots of interesting alternatives to the varieties we Americans have on our pantry shelves.

This show explores the Italian innovation of pasta hundreds of years ago, which food historians claim produced a “food renaissance.” Through a set of videos, which comprise an entertaining project called, “Pasta Grannies,” that features real-life Italian grandmothers making, shaping, and cooking pastas with names like orechiette, su finlindeu, spaghetti alla chitarra, corzetti, gorganelli, and strozzapreti, visitors learn that making pasta really is an act of design.

“Al Dente: The Design of Pasta” describes the evolution of pasta made by hand tools used for cutting and shaping to gradual industrialization which introduced new shapes (like penne). Display cases have examples of these tools, with clear, explanatory notes.

“Al Dente: The Design of Pasta,” at MODA.

Highlights include decorative and clever pasta advertisements from the 1800s to the present, examples of designer pasta, the story of a newly shaped pasta that took three years to perfect, and 3-D-produced pasta that makes packaging more efficient.

MODA holds Sunday Fundays on the second Sunday of the month. All ages are welcome to join the fun throughout the afternoon. On May 12, “Chalk the Block” will take place outdoors in front of the museum.

On May 11, between 11 a.m. and 12 noon, MODA will host a story hour especially suited for budding designers who are interested in the world of fashion. Lisa B. Brathwaite, the author of “Miles of Style,” will introduce her new book about Eunice W. Johnson, manager and publisher of EBONY magazine and co-founder and creator of the EBONY Fashion Fair.

Go online to to see the design-based summer camps for kids ages 6-18 that MODA will hold at Georgia Tech. For more information and additional events for families or kids, go to or call 404-979-6455.

MODA is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday, closed Monday and Tuesday. General admission: $10; military, seniors, students, teachers $8; youth to age 11 free. MODA is located at 1315 Peachtree Street, NE, Atlanta, 30309. There is no free MODA parking garage; however, visitors use the High Museum lot and other lots nearby.

Parents, be sure to check the Fernbank Science Museum, the Atlanta Botanical Garden, the Puppetry Arts Museum, and the High Museum of Art for other staycation activities.

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