WHAT IS IT? The Presidential Library and Museum of our 39th president, Jimmy Carter.
BEAUTY (5/10) A set of round buildings spiral around two man-made lakes and a Japanese garden. Walk through the Museum and out to the courtyard to view the gardens and the Atlanta skyline.
The building containing the Library and Museum is the only one open to the public. The circular layout is confusing, even with the minimal amount of items on display. Unlike other Presidential Museums we have visited, the exterior of the Carter Museum is more impressive and aesthetically pleasing than its contents.
HISTORIC SIGNIFICANCE (4/10) As opposed to most Presidential Libraries, things still happen here. The Library and Museum shares space with the Carter Center, Jimmy’s non-profit whose mission is “advancing human rights and alleviating unnecessary human suffering”. The work done here has advanced worldwide democracy, mediated conflicted, attacked disease and so much more. However, the Museum hardly mentions this work and instead focuses on Carter as president.
CROWDS (6/10) The good-sized crowd did not alter our visit in any way.
EASE OF USE/ACCESS (5/5) Atlanta’s bad traffic and difficult parking is legendary. While you may find yourself stuck in traffic on the way here, there is a large parking lot and many signs. Here are the directions from their website. We won’t pretend as if we understand Atlanta’s transportation grid:
From the North or South, take Interstate 75/85 to exit 248C, Freedom Parkway. Follow the signs to the Carter Center.
From the East or West, take Interstate 20 to the Moreland Avenue North exit, following Moreland Avenue north approximately two miles to Freedom Parkway. Turn left on Freedom Parkway, and follow the signs to the Carter Center.
You can also take the Atlanta rapid transit train, MARTA, to the Five Points stop.
CONCESSIONS/BOOKSTORE (2/5) Disappointing compared to the excellent choices at the Jimmy Carter NHS just down the road in Plains, GA.
COSTS (2/5) Entrance to the Museum is $7.00 per adults. No AAA discounts are given. We arrived as the Museum was updating its film selections. Full admission was charged although both theatres were temporarily out of commission.
RANGER/GUIDE TO TOURIST RATIO (1/5) There are no guided tours of the Library, Museum or rest of the Carter Center. Volunteers staff the Information Desk and are less than helpful. A young Security Guard was the only staff that actually answered our questions regarding the exhibits and layout of the small museum.
TOURS/CLASSES (3/10) We were excited to see Carter’s Presidential Library and Museum after our great time at the terrific Jimmy Carter NHS. We began to get worried when we saw the first exhibit, a chronologically ordered recap of the 20th-century presidents. The presidents' bios were hilarious, refusing to make any negative judgments. Even Warren G. Harding was labeled as a good man with a successful administration.
The Carter exhibits were not much better. The Museum is circularly arranged by issue, not by time. These sub-issues read chronologically but often move the wrong way. We started many in 1980 and read backward to 1976 not realizing what had happened until about 1978. There is a joke here somewhere. More importantly, the issues of Carter’s presidency are looked at with a surprising lack of depth and interactivity.
FUN (3/10) This Site was more painful than fun. Jimmy Carter is such a great man and his four years as president are filled with so many pitfalls, failures and disappointments. It is hard to find the triumphs (conservation expansion and the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty) among the bad news.
It is often said that Carter has been a much better ex-president than president. His Nobel Peace Prize attests to this fact and came as a result of his work with his non-profit, the Carter Center. The Museum does not mention Carter’s post-presidency, especially strange given that it is housed in the same building complex as the Carter Center.
WOULD WE RECOMMEND? (3/10) We love Jimmy Carter but would not recommend this Museum. If you are interested in Jimmy, go to the Jimmy Carter NHS in Plains and attend one of his moving Sunday school classes.
The emphasis of the Carter Center is on neither educational experience nor a personal memoir. Its goal is to promote peace, end suffering and help humankind. That is not such a bad thing and much more important than a simple tourist attraction.
USA-C2C.com is an independent website, not affiliated in any way with the National Park Service, the National Parks Foundation or any of their partners.