The National Museum of Commercial Aviation sends visitors into the friendly skies without ever leaving the ground. Inside the 6,000-square-foot facility rests a collection of more than 35,000 artifacts from airlines and facilities dating as far back as the 1930s. Glass cases house a variety of dishes and flatware from mile-high kitchens, as well as timetables and ticket jackets. Meanwhile, mannequins display 200 vintage uniforms for pilots and attendants alike. Visitors can take a seat inside a Delta Airlines 727 familiarization trainer, replete with switches, gauges, and buttons. Inside they can attempt realistic take-offs and landings while navigating the Microsoft Flight Simulator housed within. The museum is also home to one of the first tug tractors, a Gate Gourmet catering truck, and the cockpit of the Eastern Airlines Martin 404 once used by singer and musician Ray Charles to travel from gig to gig along with his three million baby grand pianos.
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.
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If you’re looking to pull the kids away from the television screen this weekend but can’t stand the thought of visiting the same dull museums, consider a stop into the Wren’s Nest House Museum. One of Atlanta’s oldest museums, the former home of Joel Chandler Harris educates tykes on the life of the author of the famous Brer Rabbit stories. Every Saturday afternoon, one of several local readers thrills children by re-enacting one of Harris’s popular tales. The walls of the small home are lined with mementos from the author’s life, and the rich, green brocade and period furniture give a welcoming atmosphere that your children will warm to quickly. You may find yourself enchanted by the stories as well, and you’re guaranteed to come away with a new appreciation for the classic stories of Joel Chandler Harris.
Certified professional photographer Gene Taylor has fine-tuned his artistic vision while working in photojournalism and portrait photography for more than 30 years. During classes at Your Photo Safari, Gene introduces students to the photographic arts and the workings of DSLR cameras. Sessions begin in classroom settings, allowing students to get acquainted with camera basics as well as advanced features such as setting white balance and reducing blur. After learning how to navigate the multiple settings and buttons on their digital cameras, students traipse to area gardens to explore the natural world through their lenses. The hands-on experience allows students to take home artfully composed shots of plants bathed in natural light or trees planking over riverbanks in a bid for Internet fame.
The High Museum of Art boasts a vast collection of 13,000 pieces from cultures around the globe, housed within an architecturally stunning buildings designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Meier. The museum’s permanent collection includes nineteenth- and twentieth-century American art as well as European paintings and decorative pieces; a growing collection of African American art, and burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art, photography and African art.
Membership to the High grants exclusive access to previews of temporary exhibits as well as education programs for kids and their families. Three restaurants fuel further art-ogling with cafe food and farm-to-table offerings.
Conveniently located in the Selig Center, across the street from the Center for Puppetry Arts, the Breman Jewish Heritage & Holocaust Museum focuses on educating its visitors on Jewish history, and promoting universal themes like diversity and human dignity. The museum itself is tiny, but comes packed with interesting artifacts and tidbits about Jewish history in Atlanta and beyond. With such interesting pieces on display in the permanent collection, plus a continually flowing stream of exhibits, it’ll likely take several visits to really let the experience sink in. All the more reason to visit the gift shop, which stocks all manner of Jewish literature, holiday gifts and trinkets.