Confounding Expectations

March 7, 2005
Filed under Destinations

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About 45 miles northwest of Atlanta, Georgia, sits a picturesque small town that serves up
plenty of down-home charm and a dollop of history. Cartersville is home to the world’s
first outdoor Coca-Cola sign and a 100-year-old courthouse, and RVers will find plenty of
campsites at nearby Lake Allatoona, which offers year-round camping at McKinney Campground.
Cartersville, therefore, makes a fine place for a low-key getaway — unless, of course,
travelers are interested in Western art. Fans of cowboys and Indians (did that just say
Western art in Georgia?), of six-guns and tumbleweeds, of sculptures, oil paintings and
movie posters should gallop immediately to the Booth Western Art Museum.
So surprising is this out-of-context, first-rate establishment that visitors to
Cartersville may be inclined to bypass this anomaly because it simply doesn’t compute. This
is the land of Scarlett O’Hara and Civil War battles, after all, not of Charlie Russell
paintings and posters of John Wayne flicks. But the Booth Western Art Museum proves that
seeing is believing. Opened in August 2003, this privately funded museum houses one of the
finest collections of contemporary Western American art anywhere, arrayed in a beautiful
architectural marvel of a building. Galleries filled with Western illustrations, Western
movie posters, and presidential letters and portraits will impress anyone fond of Old West
lore. And visitors who just wouldn’t feel right without a dose of military history will be
impressed by the gallery of contemporary Civil War art. The Booth participates in the
month-long Cowboys & Indians in Georgia, featuring more than a dozen cultural events
throughout October. This year’s event, the second annual, adds the Torchlight Tour of the
Ancient City, a re-enactment of DeSoto’s arrival in 1540, at Etowah Indian Mounds State
Historic Site. Cowboys & Indians, 800-733-2280; Booth Western Art Museum, 770-387-1300,
boothmuseum.org; museum closed
Mondays.

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