Tiberius, Rome's second emperor, stares at each visitor who enters the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University. His eyes are steady, his expression one of quiet contemplation, and his head?thanks to the Museum's in-house conservation team?a vision of white Parian marble. The Museum, located on Emory University's campus, exhibits more than 17,000 artifacts like this one. Through diverse displays, they transport visitors back to ancient Egypt, Nubia, Greece, Rome, the Near East, Africa, Asia, and the Americas.
Tiberius is certainly one of the Museum's more prominent pieces, but it is by no means the oldest. The Greek and Roman collection encompasses Neolithic works that stretch back to 4,000 BC. Egyptian exhibits travel back even further into civilization's earliest prehistory. Many of the coffins and mummies come from one of Emory's own, Professor William Shelton. He traveled to Egypt in 1920, and among other things, brought back the oldest Egyptian mummy in the Americas, the Old Kingdom Mummy.
Other galleries contain 2,300 objects from the ancient Americas. More still travel deep into South Asia, allowing visitors to view one of the Museum's more significant pieces: a rare sculpture of the 18-armed cosmic Vishnu above his numerous attendants?a reflection of the stunning artistry of India's medieval period.
Such a sprawling and eclectic collection would perhaps be overwhelming if not for the Museum's educational programs. History and art experts lead tours and teach classes for both adults and children, including a regularly occurring session on Saturdays known as "Artful Stories at the Museum." During these free events, kids hear stories of ancient civilizations, before creating their own works of art based on the day's teachings.
More than 10 million gallons of water fill the gigantic exhibits inside Georgia Aquarium, making it the largest in the world when it opened in 2005. Most visitors, of course, will be far more interested in what's gliding and diving inside all those exhibits. Their journey through the world's diverse oceans begins just inside the entrance at The SunTrust Georgia Explorer, where visitors touch rays and marvel at the sea turtle's ability to keep from sliding out of its shell. To the right lies the Southwest Tropical Diver exhibit, a mesmerizing display of coral reefs and the creatures that wind among them.
Other areas of the aquarium blend education with entertainment. Dolphins leap, swim, and dance in time to music at the AT&T Dolphin Tales show, while Journey with Gentle Giants Immersion Programs let visitors dive with massive whale sharks. There's even a movie theater, although it blows most multiplexes out of the water by adding 3-D imagery and 4-D effects. Special effects built into the seats and the theater's surroundings mean that audiences don't just see ultra-real animals and rippling waters pass before them?they feel them, too.
That's just a sampling of the more than 60 exhibits and activities that fill Georgia Aquarium. But its staff do manage to make it outside of the massive facility. In addition to their exhibits and education initiatives, the aquarium houses the Correll Center for Aquatic Animal Health: a 10,000 square-foot facility dedicated to aquatic animal conservation. Its research stretches from the whale sharks of Mexico to the penguins of South Africa to the belugas of Alaska.
There is always a lively spirit of creativity at The Sound Table, but it changes throughout the night. The upstairs dining room boasts a menu that "zigzags through global influences: Belgian-style frites, Oaxacan hanger steak with salsa verde, Chinese grilled ribs redolent of soy and chile," says Atlanta magazine, which placed restaurant on its list of the area's 50 Best Restaurants. However, the menu's capricious nature doesn't stop at the recipes, it also affects the availability. The selection changes frequently as the chefs incorporate new, seasonal ingredients. On the downstairs level, the bar is a bit more consistent, although still inventive. In addition to the international assortment of wine and beer, the bartenders mix drinks that Creative Loafing Atlanta hailed as "some of the best cocktails in the city." These shaken and stirred concoctions are separated into categories that range from bright & dry to strong, rich & strange, and they occasionally feature nontraditional ingredients such as pine liqueur or garam masala. Although the food and drinks help keep spirits high, it's the live music that transforms the two stories of exposed brickwork, booths made of wooden slats, and soft industrial lighting into a lively neighborhood dwelling. Typically starting around 11 p.m., an ever-rotating lineup of DJs and bands performs throughout the week, energizing the crowds with anything from the raw, percussive fusion of African and Latin jazz-funk to globally-influenced psychedelic.
In spite of its name, Cellar 56 features more than 56 wines from grape-growing regions throughout the world. The emphasis is on accessibility, though; the bar helpfully sells a number of wines by the half glass, allowing guests to sample a variety of wines for a fraction of the price of a bottle. To make the selection even more accessible, reds and whites are divided into small groups by style. That means that tracking down anything from a crisp, grapefruit-tinged New Zealand sauvignon blanc to a spicy Italian primitivo is as simple as scanning the list. The seasonal food menu of tapas-style small plates demonstrates a similarly eclectic approach. Old-World flavors meet New World comfort in dishes such as the truffle-scented wild-mushroom finger sandwiches on toasted french baguettes. Guinness-braised short rib with whipped potatoes evokes memories of a home-cooked stew and the pan-seared salmon demonstrates a bit more refinement with its coriander-caper glaze. Cellar 56's main seating area seems more like a den than a dining room. Bottles fill the three racks that adorn one wall, presenting diners with a neatly arranged display of wines that stretches from the top of the booths to the ceiling. Dark wooden accents, earthen tiles, and warm lighting contribute to the inviting atmosphere at what CBS Atlanta called one of the Best Wine Bars in Atlanta in 2011.
For more than 20 years, Carrie Heller's life has been a balancing act between honing her circus talents and helping others. Today, the licensed clinical social worker, a founding member of the American Youth Circus Organization, blends therapy methods with big-top techniques at the Circus Arts Institute, benefiting children and adults alike with mind- and body-benefiting acrobatics that send students swinging, twirling, and laughing through the air.
Carrie and her team of instructors acquaint students with circus-performance fundamentals using the trapeze, tight wire, Spanish web, and juggling balls. They bolster core and upper-body strength during Circus Arts Fitness workouts, which have been featured on CNN for their exciting approach to toning. For students with special needs, such as sensory challenges or ADD, they host Circus Arts Therapy classes. These sessions channel playful and positive energy as small groups learn to navigate circus equipment, enhancing their confidence, social skills, and physical coordination in a much more natural way than going on a handstand speed date.
Matt Janke dreamed of landing the perfect glass-blowing job. After moving to Atlanta in 1986, he realized there wasn't a single glass studio in town, granting his art a ready-made niche. After settling in, he returned to grad school, earning an MFA in glass with the intent to launch his own university program and ultimately procure his own space. By the time he graduated in 1992, Matt further honed his skills, stockpiled equipment, and, in 1996, opened his own studio and hired himself.
Beyond the perks of being his own boss, having his own studio affords Matt a great deal of creative freedom. He infuses all his handblown light fixtures, tumblers, and vases with the prismatic swirls of his signature style, in which precise lines and natural variations vie for attention across undulating surfaces. A downtown gallery space facilitates sales of these works.
But the studio has also fulfilled more than Matt's original goal of finding glass-blowing employment, going on to catalyze a glass-blowing community. From single apprentices in the early days, the studio is now a full-fledged classroom, with space for five instructors, a dozen students, and the kilns that must melt their glass until they each finish their training by capturing and taming a fire-breathing dragon.