Atlanta Fern Bank

Fernbank Museum

The Fernbank Museum of Natural History is the ultimate place to witness the world’s largest dinosaurs, explore the development of Earth’s natural history through Georgia’s present-day landscapes, connect with cultures from around the world, participate in an array of hands-on activities and exhibits, and more. Located just minutes from downtown Atlanta, Fernbank Museum offers a world of wonder for adults and children alike.

IMAX® Theatre

After exploring the remarkable exhibits available only at Fernbank Museum, don’t leave just yet. Fernbank is home to the biggest movie screen in Atlanta in the IMAX® Theatre. Experience movie-watching as never before on a screen that stretches five stories high and 72 feet wide. Once you’ve witnessed the power and sharpness of an IMAX® film, you’ll be back for more on the big screen!

Interactive exhibits

Interactive exhibits and alluring IMAX® films aren’t all that Fernbank Museum has to offer. Special family programs and events include Family Fun Days, weekend programming in the Naturalist Center, Scout Days, sleepovers, summer camps, birthday party packages, and more! Check Fernbank’s web site at fernbankmuseum.org for what will be offered the day of your visit.

Fernbank’s Martinis & IMAX®

Fernbank’s not just for children and families. Young professionals and other adults can get their weekend started right at Fernbank’s Martinis & IMAX®! Join us every Friday night (January through November) for live music, tasty cocktails, thrilling films, and delicious cuisine. Martinis & IMAX® is perfect for any occasion – a date with that special someone, a night out with friends, a birthday celebration, or a unique experience for visiting family and friends.

Exploring the cultures, prehistoric animals, wildlife, fossils, and wonders of the world can work up quite an appetite. The Fernbank Café features pizzas, sandwiches, kids’ meals, salads, special entrees, and more to keep your energy levels up for the adventure. After so many memorable experiences, visitors will want to stop in the Fernbank Museum Store for a souvenir. The Museum Store offers a variety of great gifts for every budget, including jewelry, minerals, games, toys, clothing, books, DVDs, home decor, and more. Whatever the day, whatever the occasion, Fernbank Museum of Natural History combines adventure, learning, and fun for all ages!

De Soto Artifacts at Fernbank

Five years after the Fernbank Museum of Natural History launched an archaeological expedition to investigate the history of early contact between Native American Indians and Europeans in Georgia, a new exhibition will showcase some of the rare artifacts that tell of those encounters and will reveal the significance of the findings.

De Soto’s Footsteps: New Archaeological Evidence from Georgia includes metal and glass artifacts that led Fernbank’s lead archaeologist, Dennis Blanton, to conclude Hernando de Soto’s footsteps could be traced to an unexpected location in Georgia. Until now, many scholars believed De Soto and his small army took a different route through the region as he looked for food, information, and riches after departing from today’s Tallahassee, Fla. in 1540.

Fernbank’s archaeological findings have surprised the world and challenged modern history with discoveries that place these early European explorers along the lower Ocmulgee River in Telfair County. While the excavations are still ongoing, they have produced the largest collection of early sixteenth-century Spanish artifacts in the Southeast outside of Florida.

Among the objects on display are Native American artifacts such as pottery, pipes and stone tools, as well as artifacts carried by the Spanish, highlighted by four distinctive types of glass beads, and
objects of iron, brass, and silver. None of the objects has ever been on public display. The findings to date have generated intense interest from archaeologists, scholars, historians and the National Geographic Society, which recently announced a grant to help fund further research.

The exhibition is designed to draw visitors into the excitement of discovery by highlighting the archaeological process through video footage shot on-location during the excavations, archaeological journal entries and the story of a sharp-eyed high school student who uncovered the first glass bead on the dig site. That bead was the first big clue that Hernando de Soto may have visited the site more than 450 years earlier.

Illustrations by Fernbank artists give a glimpse of the scene when De Soto’s small army arrived upon the Native American settlement, as well as a view of the interior of the council house structure reserved for special ceremonies and meetings, where the Spanish objects were excavated.

De Soto’s Footsteps compares the previously accepted route of De Soto to a newly proposed path that merges the location of Fernbank’s artifact discoveries with written records of De Soto’s exploration. The reconstruction of the path and the world he explored offers a never-before-seen glimpse of conditions in the Southeast before Europeans arrived in the area.

Contact with Spanish expeditions affected many Native American cultures, but there is more to learn about the causes and the changes they brought about. As Fernbank’s excavations and lab work continue, archaeologists will continue to consider De Soto’s route while studying the effects the
Spanish arrival had on Native peoples.

Fernbank Museum of Natural History
767 Clifton Rd. NE
Atlanta, GA 30307
Phone: 404.929.6300
Tickets: 404.929.6400 or fernbankmuseum.org

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