Downtown Macon is alive with cultural and historical attractions. Its museum district is home to the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, 301 Cherry St.; Georgia Music Hall of Fame, 200 Martin Luther King Blvd.; Tubman African American Museum, 340 Walnut St.; and Georgia Children’s Museum, 382 Cherry St. These museums, within walking distance of each other, feature interactive exhibits, multimedia presentations, and fascinating histories that are sure to delight and enchant visitors.
The Georgia Sports Hall of Fame was established in 1956 as the Georgia Sports Prep Hall of fame to honor high school athletes and coaches. Today the museum encompasses the full range of athletics in Georgia. It offers visitors the opportunity to experience the history of Georgia sports and learn about nearly 400 Georgia sports legends by touring the museum’s display of more than 1,000 artifacts. For the sports fan in everyone, history comes to life through a collection of photos, videos, sports memorabilia, and interactive exhibits.
Contributions of Georgia athletes are front and center in the Hall of Fame gallery. In this area visitors learn the stories of sports greats such as baseball players Hank Aaron and Ty Cobb, golfer Bobby Jones, boxer Sugar Ray Robinson, and hundreds of other coaches & athletes who have made their mark on sports worldwide. The Hall of Fame’s collection includes jerseys, sporting equipment, and unique artifacts, such as the bow tie worn by Savannah native Mills Lane, the man who refereed the 1997 boxing match during which Mike Tyson bit Evander Holyfield’s ear.
The museum’s second floor includes interactive exhibits such as a NASCAR driving simulator and a basketball court where anyone can test their hoop-shooting skills. Other exhibits cover the impact of Georgians on the Olympic and Paralympic movements and professional sports, including baseball, basketball, football, hockey, golf, and others. Of course, college athletics and the teams that make Georgia proud are featured, as is an intriguing exhibit that lets visitors decide for themselves which famous moments in Georgia sports history are the “greatest.”
At the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, visitors explore Georgia’s rich and diverse musical history through interactive exhibits, video presentations, and untold hours of audio recordings. Famous Georgia musicians who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame include R.E.M., Gregg Allman, the Indigo Girls, Ray Charles, Usher, and Macon’s own Little Richard.
The museum’s permanent exhibit section is designed to look like a small Georgia town, with each section of the town representing a different genre of music. Ten areas within “Tune Town” cover bluegrass, gospel, rock & roll, R&B, and other forms of music important to Georgia’s history. The Jazz & Swing Club is reminiscent of a Savannah night club while the Skillet Licker Café tells the stories of musicians from the past such as Fiddlin’ John Carson as well as performers of today such as Alan Jackson. Other areas include the 2,400 square foot interactive children’s area known as the Bill Watson Music Factory and the Gretsch Theater’s 15-minute documentary Home Grown and World Known, a short film about Georgia’s musical heritage.
The rich diversity of music cannot be told only through permanent exhibits and displays. The Georgia Music Hall of Fame features changing exhibitions of photography as well as biographies of important Georgia musicians. The exhibition, Johnny Mercer: Too Marvelous for Words, chronicles the career of the Savannah singer, writer, composer, and lyricist. Other exhibitions featured the works of photographer Jim McGuire, and the Otis Redding exhibit, I’ve Got Dreams to Remember. The museum also offers a range of live performances, workshops, and educational activities for kids through its Music in Kids’ Education (MIKE) program.
The Tubman African American Museum educates visitors about the art, history, and culture of African American people. The contributions of African Americans are documented and celebrated through art, photography, sculpture, and physical artifacts on two floors of exhibits. The multi-panel mural, From Africa to America, by local artist Wilfred Stroud is a pictorial narrative of historical events and important people that should not be missed.
Galleries in the Tubman Museum feature works of art by local artists and artifacts from institutions such as the Smithsonian as well as permanent displays. The museum’s inventor’s gallery chronicles the creation of devices ranging from the ice cream scoop to ironing board to the Super Soaker, all created by African Americans. Fine art by local and regional artists are on display as are changing exhibitions of painting, sculpture, and photography.
The Georgia Children’s Museum is a hands-on, activity-filled museum for children two to twelve and their families. Here kids can learn about different cultures and Macon’s sister cities through the Passport to the World exhibit, or they can anchor their own news broadcast in the museum’s WGCM television studio. The museum’s arts & crafts corner lets kids imaginations fly as they draw self-portraits while blindfolded or make greeting cards for someone special.
Kids will enjoy visiting the Georgia Children’s Museum for its special exhibits and activities all year long, including play dates for toddlers, story time, craft time, and extended hours the first Friday of every month. Parents will enjoy the museum’s Around the World Café for a snack or light lunch. Special traveling exhibits that focus on history and culture are of special interest to all museum visitors.
Additional information about each museum, including current exhibitions, hours of operation, addresses, and admission fees may be found by clicking the links below.
Georgia Sports Hall of Fame: http://www.gshf.org
Georgia Music Hall of Fame: http://www.georgiamusic.org
Tubman African American Museum: http://www.tubmanmuseum.com
Georgia Children’s Museum: http://www.georgiachildrensmuseum.com