The Huntsville Museum of Art's collection and exhibitions provide an aesthetic roost for predominantly Southeast American artwork, housing more than 3,000 artistic objects by national and regional artists. Sporting spacious galleries and the recently added Davidson Center for the Arts wing, the museum woos wayward gazes with more than 400 paper works of 19th- and 20th-century American masters, including James McNeill Whistler, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, and John Sloan. Current exhibitions include Future Retro: Drawings from the Great Age of Automobiles, which documents the post-war history of American automobile design through primary sketches and drawings, rather than with rejected robot lecturers from Epcot's Hall of Presidents, as well as Edward Weston: Leaves of Grass, which displays 53 black-and-white images used by the photographer to illustrate Walt Whitman's famous poem.
Mary G. Hardin Center decks the walls of its three ever-changing galleries with local and national exhibits that boast a variety of media, whereas Imagination Place hosts the learning expeditions of a younger set. Members enjoy unlimited admission to both cultural centers for all the limbs of their bodies or all the people in their household, plus four guest passes, invitations to exhibits' opening receptions, and discounts to more than 200 other museums and science centers. From June 30 through December 23, film buffs can geek out over a singular cinematic touchstone with Gone with the Wind at 75: A Diamond Jubilee.
Spread across 120 acres, the picturesque grounds of Huntsville Botanical Garden sprout trails that meander in and out of 10 themed gardens. Enlivened by the technicolor bursts of blooming perennials and the squeal of plesiosaur hatchlings from the aquatic pavilion, the gardens surround visitors in seasonal splendor. Avid gardeners can gawk at the verdant 5-acre central corridor garden—whose flowering shrubs and trees offer an ever-changing kaleidoscope of color throughout the year—while the children's garden presents youngsters with an interactive playpen, where they can learn the science behind photosynthesis and how prisms work. The Huntsville Botanical Garden gift shop is filled with a variety of unique gifts, knick-knacks, and curios such as wine-bottle-shaped tote bags ($11) and the Huntsville Sketchbook ($24.95), a coffee-table book of paintings by local artists.
In the early 20th century, Tate Farms was a social hub for sharecroppers, who congregated at farmer John Patterson's general store, blacksmith shop, and gristmill. More than 200 harvests later, John Patterson's grandson, Homer Tate's descendants continue to uphold the farm’s legacy as a community gathering spot. However, instead of waiting for a new batch of horseshoes or gossiping about which neighbor might be a spy for the Kaiser, people now come to pick from 90 varieties of pumpkins on the 70-acre pumpkin patch. Leading visitors across the wider 5,000-acre fields, tour guides not only illuminate the farm’s history but teach visitors rural-agriculture info, including lessons on the role bees play in pollinating pumpkins and cotton.
Though the Tate family strives to preserve the past, they have retrofitted the farm with a brand new 14,000-square-foot covered area. Here, visitors sample fresh pumpkin pie made with the farm’s own pumpkins at the Country Café or head to the bakery for fresh pumpkin muffins and cinnamon rolls.
Sci-Quest Hands-On Science Center engages students young and old with more than 100 interactive science, math, and technology exhibits, earning kudos from Huntsville Times readers as the area’s Best Family Attraction. A family four-pack includes general admission for two adults and two adults of the future, granting access to themed exhibits such as PlayMotion, an interactive projector that allows visitors to catch falling planets without the sinus aggravation of falling moon dust. Free live science demonstrations running everyday illuminate the salient variations between plant, animal, and bacterial cells while granting little learners microscopic views of cellular life events, such as ribosomal rugby matches.
Obscured by the jagged branches of towering trees, the pale moonlight scarcely illuminates the night. Through the darkness, the sound of snapping twigs and rustling leaves sends a clear message: you are not alone. This is the spine-tingling setting waiting to welcome brazen guests as they embark upon their journey through the Haunted Woods in Howell. The one-hour odyssey is interrupted by spine-tingling scenes, including an encounter with the headless horseman, an exorcism, and at least one terrifying tête-à-tête with a high-school gym teacher. More than 70 live actors ensure a night of novel scares, and all funds raised will benefit the Hazel Green High School baseball and theatre programs.