Michael C. Carlos Museum

Are you looking for something to do around Atlanta that will let you enjoy a day out in our amazing city we live in, or the amazing city you are visiting? Wendy and I decided to check out the Michael C. Carlos Museum on the campus of Emory University. The Carlos Museum is a private museum that is home to some amazing examples of early Native American history, as well as one of the largest collections of ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian artifacts in the New World. It is also home to a revolving series of exhibits on the top floor, most recently modern Native American art.

If you are not from Atlanta, Emory University is located less than five miles to the northeast from the city center of Atlanta. You can travel up I-85 and get off at North Druid Hills Road, or you can take Ponce de Leon from downtown to Briarcliff Road, passing through the Virginia Highlands and Morningside neighborhoods. My recommendation is to take the second route.  The traffic on North Druid Hills can be rough during the day, and the drive through the Highlands and Morningside is much more enjoyable. When you arrive on campus walk directly behind the Emory University Hospital into the main quad of the campus.  The museum is a beautiful marble building, but so is most of the campus, so look for signs to guide you there.

If you go to the left when you enter you will see the early American history wing featuring Native American artwork, jewelry, pottery, and tools from tribes on both continents of the Western hemisphere. Tribes represented include the Toltec, Maya, Aztec, Inca, and many of the ancient North American tribes. The quality of the pieces on display is outstanding. In this wing some pieces that stood out to me are the statue of an ancient Costa Rican shaman from around the time of Jesus that is a combination of the body of a woman and a deer.  They also have hundreds of items that span the entire length of the the Inca empire, which is outlined on the floor to help you understand what region much of the art came from.


On the other side of the main floor is the ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian wing. Here they have busts of several ancient rulers and gods, Greek and Roman coins and jewelry, mosaics depicting glorious battles against the Amazon warriors, wonderful examples of battle armor, and much more. There is also a small room with sculptures representing ancient Asian religions like Hinduism and Buddhism. Some of the cool pieces in this room include the 8th Century depiction of the Ganesh, and the 11th Century statue of an eighteen-armed Vishnu. The prize of the whole museum though is the Egyptian wing. Home to one of the largest collection of mummies and sarcophagi in the New World, the pieces on display here are unbelievable. In fact, many of the historians and scientists at Emory have been crucial in the identification and preservation of many ancient pieces from Egypt. The coolest piece, in my opinion, is the ancient mummy lying on his side with his head propped up to appear as if he is sleeping.  The description tells how laying mummies in a prone position would not come until much later in Egyptian history, and this mummy is the oldest in the New World.  While you are in this area look for the ancient clay sculpture of what appears to be an obese woman. The piece is around 8,000 years old and is the oldest artifact on display. You have to keep your eyes open for it, it is small and located in a case on a wall near the back of the museum.


There is a second story to the museum, which has rotating displays much like any other history museum. The display at the time this was written was more modern Native American art, from the 18th and 19th centuries, and was interesting, but not overwhelming. There is a small, semi-permanent African art gallery, but it was overshadowed by the scope of the Native American art display.  Photographs are not allowed in the top floor of the museum.

The cost to get in the museum is $8 a person, a completely reasonable price, but check online for better deals. I found a deal for two people for $13, and that included audio guides, which were well worth it.  A person could easily spend the entire day inside and read about all of the pieces, but in all we spent two hours in there and loved it.  Besides the amazing audio material, this museum as thr most printed material underneath each displayed item that I have ever seen in any museum.  They do have a membership program that offers free entrance to any member as often as you like (don't quote me on that). When you are done walk down to the Emory Village and enjoy lunch or dinner. The village has many great restaurants and bars now that are a great place to talk about all of the learning you just did. 

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