What looks like a large Roman-inspired arch monument in the midst of Atlantic Station is actually home to a museum that pays homage to Georgia history and Atlanta’s founding families. Standing at an imposing 100 feet tall, this seven-story monument narrates the events that unfolded to make Georgia and Atlanta, which was historically called the Gate City, what they are today. As one of the world’s most unique history museums, the monument’s internal museum depicts many important chapters of the state’s history, including the founding of Savannah, the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement.
Known as the Millennium Gate, this classically-inspired arch opened to much fanfare on July 4, 2008 to serve as a reminder that even though many consider Atlanta a young city, it’s a city with years of history, heartache and success. Developed and operated by the non-profit National Monuments Foundation, the gate was the first major classical monument built in the United States since the Jefferson Monument was built in D.C., which opened in 1943.
Modeled after the Arch of Titus, a first-century arch located on the Via Sacra in Rome, Italy, the Millennium Gate appears to be a symbolic portal into the city. Dedicated to the peaceful accomplishments that have shaped the western world, the United States and, more specifically, the state of Georgia and city of Atlanta, the museum houses three permanent exhibits and three period rooms that allow Atlantans to look back while also looking forward.
The Georgia Pioneer Gallery, which begins with Native American history and the Spanish exploration of the coast, focuses on General Oglethorpe’s creation of the Colony of Georgia and how it became one of the most important destinations in the world. The exhibition features photographs and artifacts from some of Atlanta’s pioneering families including Adair, Candler, Woodruff and many others who have helped shape Georgia’s landscape. The gallery contains documents and historical relics from the Native Indian, Spanish, British Colonial and American Revolutionary days that complement and add element to this history exhibit.
Next, the Bodmer-Hanna Gallery which showcases the 53 page long oldest known texts of the Gospels of Luke and John. Discovered by Georgia native, Frank Hanna III, it was rescued from probable destruction. Found near Egypt’s Valley of the Kings in the Nile River Valley, these papyri revolutionized our understanding of the earliest Christian writings. It is said that these pages predate the Codex Vaticanus, the oldest known Bible, by up to 150 years. This proves that the Gospels had been transcribed verbatim for much longer that previously known. Two pages are currently on display at the Millennium Gate Museum.
The third gallery on display is the work of Cuban-American artist, Michelle Trunzo. She is best known for her paintings of tropical Cuban landscapes, roses and portraits. She began her career at the age of seven when her father hired a French painter to teach her the skills of composition, intensity and shade. She was involved in the 1957 rebellion against the Batista government, which resulted her in fleeing to the United States at the age of 24. She continued her work in 1972 and throughout the decades has amassed a total of over 300 paintings.
In addition, there are three period rooms that showcase three distinct chapters in state history. The rooms include an eighteenth-century Colonial study from Midway, Ga., the nineteenth-century office of Thomas K. Glenn when he was president of Atlantic Steel and the twentieth-century drawing room of Pink House, the Rhodes-Robinson home designed by Phillip Shutze.
In addition to housing the 12,000 square foot museum, the Millennium Gate and the surrounding gardens are a one-of-a-kind location for weddings, corporate events, parties and charity balls.
The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., and reservations are preferred. Admission to tour the museum is $12 per adult, $10 for seniors and youths aged six to 17 and free for children six and under.
The Millennium Gate is located at 395 17th Street in Atlanta. For more information or to contact the Millennium Gate Museum, call 404-881-0900 or visit www.TheGateAtlanta.com.