Trip Ideas

Five of Georgia's Must-See Civil Rights Museums

From southwest Georgia to the Atlantic coast to Atlanta, there are museums designed to help everyone understand this important period in American history.

  • Center for Civil and Human Rights

    Albert Vecerka / ESTO & Rockwell Group

In Georgia, there are many places to learn about the civil rights movement. It lives around us. Monuments, historical plaques and living legends can be found throughout the state. There are also museums focused specifically on civil rights and the struggle that ensued to make them a reality for all Americans.

There are several civil rights museums in the state of Georgia. From southwest Georgia to the Atlantic coast to Atlanta, there are museums designed to help everyone understand this important period in American history.

Five Civil Rights Museums in Georgia

Albany Civil Rights Institute

Exhibit at the Albany Civil Rights Insitute

Head to Albany, Georgia, to visit the experiential-based Albany Civil Rights Institute. Through photographs, educational exhibits, oral histories and other artifacts, visitors can experience how the civil rights movement affected Albany, and how Albany affected the civil rights movement.

The Albany Civil Rights Institute is located in Old Mt. Zion Church, a newly restored church dating back to 1906. The museum details the struggles Albany residents, as well as others in the South, experienced during this crucial time in history. Learn about the push for voter registration, economic boycotts, nonviolent protests and even the freedom songs sung during the civil rights struggle. The Institute also provides educational opportunities and is a center for ongoing academic research. For an extra special experience, visit on the second Saturday of each month to hear the museum’s Freedom Singers perform.

APEX Museum, Atlanta

APEX Museum in Atlanta

APEX is an acronym for African American Panoramic Experience. The APEX Museum in Atlanta is housed on a street once known as "The Richest Negro Street in the World." The building was erected 100 years ago, built entirely by African American masons.

The APEX Museum prides itself on being the only museum in metropolitan Atlanta “solely dedicated to telling the rich and often untold story of people of the African Diaspora.” Its goal is to provide visitors with a complete view of African Americans and their contributions to the United States and the world. Although this museum doesn’t limit itself to the civil rights period, it offers a unique perspective on this time, as well as the many years prior that led to the fight for civil rights.

King Center Visitor Center, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park, Atlanta

The King Center in Atlanta. Photo by Maria Smith

When looking for a place to learn about the civil rights movement, it is imperative to include The King Center in Atlanta. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the heartbeat of the movement during his short life, and his legacy lives on way past his untimely death.

The King Center Visitor Center is the highlight of the 35-acre Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park. The park also includes Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church and Martin Luther King Jr. Birth Home.

One of the highlights of The King Center Visitor Center is the featured exhibit “Courage to Lead.” It helps visitors better understand the civil rights movement and Dr. King’s role in it. Also, be sure to spend time visiting the “Children of Courage” exhibit, especially if you are there with children. It includes hands-on, informational exhibits that tell the story about the participation of children in the civil rights movement.

Center for Civil and Human Rights, Atlanta

©2015, J Glenn Photography

The Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta is one of the most magnificent places to not just learn about the civil rights movement, but to actually experience it yourself. Sit at the lunch counter exhibit and see, hear and feel what you may have experienced if you had been a protestor at one of the many sit-ins throughout the South. This museum is home to some of the most dramatic, sobering, and incredibly realistic exhibits on the Civil Rights Era.

The Center also houses a rotating collection of personal items from The Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection. Visitors can see personal letters, family photos and artifacts, and hand-written papers from Dr. King. Beyond the struggle for civil rights in the United States, though, the Center for Civil and Human Rights also allows visitors learn about the struggle for basic rights throughout the world.

The Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum, Savannah

Lunch counter exhibit at the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum in Savannah. Photo by Geoff L. Johnson

Named in honor of the man considered the father of the civil rights movement in Savannah, the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum welcomes visitors who want to learn more about how the movement affected this coastal city.

The museum tells the story of Georgia’s oldest African-American community from slavery through Jim Crow and segregation, to the civil rights period and beyond. Three floors of interactive exhibits and photographs allow visitors to better understand the civil rights movement in Savannah.

The Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum is located in a building built in 1914 by an African-American contractor. It once housed in the Wage Earners Savings and Loan Bank, once the largest bank for African Americans in the country. In addition to the exhibits, the museum also features lecture halls, classrooms, a video/reading room, an African-American book collection for children and a gift shop.


Maria Smith is a married mom of four and an Atlanta-based freelance writer. Follow her travels at MamaliciousMaria.com and on Instagram.

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