Emory’s Michael C. Carlos Museum

On a recent chilly afternoon, our family met friends on the campus of Emory University so we could explore the Michael C. Carlos Museum together. This quaint but sophisticated museum founded in 1876 attracts more than 100,000 visitors a year and serves more than 30,000 school children each year. It is famous for its collections of art and artifacts from Egypt, Africa, Asia and “ancient America.”
You may not think of taking your kids here, but it has lots to offer kids of all ages and is also affordable.
We started our tour with a guide, who pointed out interesting details along the way; her information helped bring the artwork to life. Our guide did a great job simplifying the tour to ensure that even the youngest children could understand the history of the artifacts.
Next, we visited the Sub-Saharan African Galleries and examined beautiful African artifacts, including an amazingly tall (about 6 feet) mask made of tribal fabrics. The details of this mask included a wide array of fabric patterns and colors, in addition to layers of mirrors and buttons. The kids were amazed that someone could even wear and hold up such a large mask. It was after we headed down the stairs that we came upon what we all enjoyed most: the Ancient Egyptian, Nubian and Near Eastern galleries. The mummies here are simply magnificent. I can still hear all the kids and adults muttering their “oohs” and “ahhs.”
Older kids seemed to want to know everything they could about the mummies, while the toddlers were more generally impressed by the atmosphere of “wonder” in these lower galleries. Our guide described some of the Egyptian artistic traditions, including use of scale and color. She even challenged the kids to stand like the Egyptians in the paintings. What fun!
While we also walked through other galleries – including ancient American and Greek and Roman – our kids were eager to return to the Egyptian room. We had a great time. I had never seen mummies – and just looking back on our experience, I continue to be amazed.
– Caren Lightfoot

Planning your visit:

  • Prepare your kids for the art that they will see and ask them to prepare some questions. For example: “What are the mummies wrapped in?”
  • Schedule or join a tour; this worked well for the kids, and it makes the museum experience more interactive.
  • We enjoyed the museum gift shop, especially examining the nice assortment of books related to the museum’s subject matter.

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