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No visit to the state would be complete without a visit to Alabama museums. Whether you are a history buff, dinosaur fan or love exploring natural history exhibits, you’ll find plenty of attractions to capture your interest.
Make travel plans to explore Alabama soon, and head for Birmingham. Once there, the music lover inside you will no doubt want to spend an afternoon touring the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame. You can see and do many different excellent and impressive things in central AL, but the Jazz HoF is a can't-miss. The actual Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, as an entity, was established in 1978, but the museum itself, was opened to the public in 1993. They seek to educate and foster, as well as promote, a general appreciation for jazz music by honoring those impactful jazz musicians from Alabama.
Originally built in 1835, the Battle-Friedman House is an antebellum structure set in central Alabama in the city of Tuscaloosa. Currently operated by the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society, the Battle-Friedman House & Gardens is now a museum featuring distinct Tuscaloosa-style architecture and renaissance revival decor and furniture indoors. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the historic house is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The Battle-Friedman House is also available for tours and private events, like Tuscaloosa weddings, receptions, and more.
Set on 83 acres, the Oakville Indian Mounds Education Center is located in Danville – found just southwest of Decatur. Preserving 20 ancient mounds, the park is open daily for visitors looking to learn more about the ancient inhabitants of northern Alabama. Found in Lawrence County neighboring the William B. Bankhead National Forest, the Oakville Indian Mounds Education Center was inspired by the Cherokee Capitol at the village of Chota. Visitors enjoy artifacts, multicultural events, and the impressive Oakville Ceremonial Woodland Mound.
Located at Claiborne Lock & Dam, the Alabama River Museum is located in southern Alabama just northwest of Monroeville. Found along the Alabama River, the museum exhibits riverboat travel, Native America artifacts, and fossils from the Claiborne Bluffs. Alabama River Museum features a replica of the Nettie Quill steamboat, and special events like the annual Alabama River Festival. A member of the Monroe County Heritage Museums, ARM also offers riverside picnic areas.
Housing a collection of over 5,000 items, the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame is located in downtown Birmingham in central Alabama. Sports fans from all over the country flock to the museum to view items like the Heisman Trophies of Auburn University alumni Bo Jackson and Pat Sullivan. The ASHOF also houses over 200 inductees on exhibit – including legends like Paul "Bear" Bryant, former football coach at the University of Alabama, and Mobile native and MLB legend Hank Aaron. The facility hosts induction events and ceremonies at the Bryant Jordan Theater.
Formerly the Alabama Great Southern Railroad Depot, the Bessemer Hall of History Museum showcases a variety of historical artifacts, photographs and documents native to the town of Bessemer. The museum can be found in the Historic Downtown Bessemer district in central Alabama. The Museum, along with Bessemer's Owen Plantation House and the Canaan Baptist Church, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Permanent exhibits include the Martin Luther King Jr. Cell Block Door and the annual Day at the Depot special event.
Also the North Alabama Civil War, the Blue & Gray Museum is located in historic Decatur in northern Alabama. The museum is said to contain the nation’s largest, privately owned collection of artifacts from the American Civil War – all belonging to a single owner. The Blue & Gray Museum is open throughout the year, Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors see authentic Union and Confederate weapons, uniforms and medals, and countless other pieces of memorabilia from War Between the States.
Named for famed football coach Bear Bryant, the Paul W. Bryant Museum is set on the University of Alabama’s main campus in Tuscaloosa. Found in central Alabama outside of Birmingham, the Bryant Museum focuses on the history of UA’s Crimson Tide varsity teams. Exhibits include the Hall of Honor, Coach Bryant's Office, and the Crystal Hat – a Waterford crystal reproduction of Bryant’s iconic houndstooth hat. Established in 1985, the Bryant Museum is a member of the University of Alabama Museums, and draws over 35,000 annual visitors.
Originally established in 1984, the Children's Hands-On Museum of Tuscaloosa is set in downtown Tuscaloosa in central Alabama. Only closed on Sundays, CHOM is known for its 24, hands-on exhibits ideal for children from infancy to age 13. Interactive exhibits include Lil’ Sprouts Farmer’s Market, the Choctaw Indian Village, Space Station CHOM, the DCH Health System, and more. CHOM also features festivities like Winter Wonderland and Rubber Duck Derby, and is available for hosting private events like birthday parties.
Soley featuring artistic work by southern artists, the Gadsden Museum of Art houses a large collection of paintings, sculptures, artifacts, furniture and photographs native to the region. The museum can be found in the northern Alabama town of Gadsden. Visitors frequently enjoying visiting during Family Fun Day, held every on the third Saturday of each month, when the museum sets up a variety of educational games and activities. Past events include Stiching Across Alabama 2014 and the Sounds of Christmas 2014.
Part of the Gorgas–Manly Historic District, the Gorgas House Museum is located on the main campus of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Set in central Alabama, the now-museum was the first structure built on campus – back in 1829. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the museum is open for self-guided tours weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Part of the University of Alabama Museums system, the Gorgas House Museum is named after UA’s seventh president – Josiah Gorgas.
Set in the Old Courthouse Museum, the Monroe County Heritage Museum is better known as the set of famed book and movie, “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Located in Monroeville in southern Alabama, the museum is closed Sundays and Mondays. Constructed in 1903, the Monroe County Courthouse features two main exhibits: Truman Capote: A Childhood in Monroeville, and Harper Lee: In Her Own Words. Each April and May, the courthouse is the current setting for the annual production of "To Kill a Mockingbird" by the Mockingbird Players.
Located in historic Smith Hall at the University of Alabama campus in Tuscaloosa, the Alabama Museum of Natural History houses a wonderful collection of displays dating back to the Age of Dinosaurs, the Coal Age and the Ice Age. The museum is the oldest museum in the state, having been constructed in 1831.
The exhibits can be found all throughout the museum's three stories – including in the Atrium Gallery on the first floor and the Grand Gallery Exhibition Hall on the second floor. While on campus, visitors can also check out the Moundville Archaeological Park and Museum for further exploration of central Alabama's ancient history.
The world’s largest cast iron statue, the Vulcan statue stands at 56 feet in the city of Birmingham in central Alabama. Premiered at the 1904 World's Fair, the statue is now the centerpiece of the Vulcan Park and Museum at Red Mountain. Covering 10 acres, the Vulcan Park & Museum features a large interactive history exhibit, events like the Thunder on the Mountain 4th of July Fireworks Extravaganza, and Vulcan's Gift Shop. Listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the Vulcan statue is also the country’s seventh tallest freestanding statue.
Opened in 1992, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute portrays the history of Birmingham as it was influenced by the civil rights movement. The institute can be found in the Civil Rights District of Birmingham – a staple area of central Alabama. Once there, guests will find a variety of traveling and permanent exhibits showcasing Birmingham's role in the Civil Rights Movement. The institute also hosts plenty of special and annual events, like the Milestones Walking Tour, Juneteenth, and more.