Booth Museum: A Legendary Western Museum in the South

The Booth Museum, a western art museum located in Cartersville, Georgia, is one of those surprising finds that you just can’t stop raving about to friends.

At 120,000 square feet, it’s the second largest art museum in Georgia and houses the largest permanent exhibition space for Western American art in the country. It’s also affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, a prestigious designation. In 2016 it was named the Southeast Attraction of the Year by the Southeast Tourism Society.  All that just 35 minutes north of Atlanta.

The Booth Museum has impressive permanent exhibits and every special exhibition is a reason to go back, but the best part of the Booth Western Art Museum is they have fun with the western theme and the art. And I guarantee, toddlers to teens to elderly folks who grew up on Hollywood Westerns (like my dad) will enjoy this museum, here’s why.

Booth Museum

Booth Museum: An Awesome Western Museum in the South

Western Art Galleries. There are eight different galleries filled with western artwork at the Booth Museum. Each gallery is centered around a different aspect of the American West – the history, different faces of the West including women and African Americans, and some of the people who blazed the trail for others to follow. Of course there is also a large gallery devoted to native american objects. The full sized stage coach is pretty awesome.

However, the one that intrigued my father the most was the Mythic West. A collection of movie posters, dime store novels and magazine articles that transported him back to his childhood when Tom Mix, Gene Autry and John Wayne ruled the West and every young boy’s dreams.

Civil War Gallery. While cowboys were taming the west, the American Civil War was tearing apart the other side of the country. Civil War art gives a glimpse into the conflict and tragedy by bringing viewers onto the battlefields and into the encampments of the soldiers. You can just hear the whizzing of the bullets and the smell of gunpowder.

If you are interested in the Civil War, a fabulous accompaniment to a visit to the Booth is Turning Point: The American Civil War at the Atlanta History Center.

Presidential Gallery. This gallery always seems a little out of place to me in a Western art museum, but it’s still fun to walk through and see all the personal letters – one for each president.

Special Exhibition. The Booth Museum is always changing up their exhibits. The last time I was there they were opening an exceptional exhibit of wildlife artists. The painting of a lab jumping into the water was so lifelike, I thought he would land in my lap. They have also had exhibits by reknown photographer Ansel Adams, and are planning a exhibit of Remington sculptures later in 2018.

Sagebrush Ranch Stagecoach at the Booth Museum
Ride in a stagecoach that moves at the Sagebrush Ranch. Sagebrush Ranch is an extensive kids indoor playground at the Booth Western Museum.

Booth Western Art Museum for Kids

Sagebrush Ranch Gallery. This is one of my favorite parts of the Booth Museum. I wouldn’t call it a gallery as much as an indoor playground.

Museums can be tough for kids, especially art museums where paintings and sculptures are to be seen, but not touched. In the Sagebrush Ranch, kids learn about western artists and artwork by riding in a stagecoach, cooking on a chuck wagon, playing dress up, and drawing horses.

The Ranch is located in the basement of the museum so you don’t have to shhh the children every five minutes, and there is plenty of room to spread out and just be a kid. It’s entertaining for a multitude of ages too.  My 7-year-old was just as engaged as the toddler walking around.

By Native Hands Family Guide. This fun-filled brochure is available at the front desk of the Booth Museum of Western Art.  The guide contains fill in the blank, matching, crossword puzzles and more based on the Native American objects gallery.

Take a glimpse of the Sagebrush Ranch in the video below.


Booth Museum Special Events

If you haven’t figure it out yet, I love visiting the Booth Museum pretty much any time, but part of that fun I was talking about is in the events the museum sponsors.

The two events that intrigue me most – the Cowboy Gathering in March and the Cowboy Festival and Symposium in October. These popular annual events add an extra touch of realism, and the entire town turns into a Western themed set.

During the weekend long festivals you can meet real live cowboys, learn pioneer skills, and even go to cowboy church! Taste vittles from authentic Chuck Wagons – and I don’t mean overcooked beans in a can either, we are talking delicious meals cooked over an open fire or in a dutch oven just like they did on the range. Watch a wild west gunfight that is so well done, you’ll be hiding behind a barrel.

Cartersville, Ga. Beyond the Booth Museum

Cartersville, Ga. may seem like an unlikely place for a world class museum of western art, but that’s not all you’ll find in this town.

In addition to the Booth Museum, save some time to visit the science focused Tellus Museum. Not far from the museum is historic downtown Cartersville where you can see the world’s first Coca-Cola outdoor sign.

If you plan to spend more than a day in historic Cartersville, Ga., visit the Bartow History Museum, Old Car City USA, Etowah Indian Mounds, or just watch the trains go by.

What: Booth Western Museum
Where: 501 Museum Dr., Cartersville, Ga. 30120, 770-382-1300
When: Open Tues. – Sun.
Everyone is FREE from 4 pm – 8 pm the first Thursday of the month

Where to Stay Near Booth Museum

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