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Tuscaloosa Museums Share Heritage and Culture

Trips to Tuscaloosa are often prompted by University of Alabama sporting events. But, when scores are settled and visitors need more things to do, Tuscaloosa museums offer a great way to spend the day. From natural science, heritage, and culture, and yes, even football, there’s a museum for everyone…even children!

Alabama Museum of Natural History

The Alabama Museum of Natural History has been offering an avenue to celebrate the state’s beauty and natural history for more than 150 years. You’ll find informative exhibitions along with specimen collections that help give a detailed account of Alabama’s past. Programs that teach, research, and serve are all vitally important to the promotion of first-hand experiences with Alabama’s natural history. Located on the University of Alabama campus, this prized museum is housed in Smith Hall and boasts beautiful architectural elements such as a marble staircase in the Atrium Gallery, Corinthian columns in the Grand Gallery and a façade that reflects a Classical Revival style. 

Children’s Hands-On Museum (CHOM)

A place where children can Explore, Create and Discover —that’s what Children’s Hands-On Museum is! With three floors of exhibits, learning through play is taught in settings like a farmer’s market, an art studio, a Choctaw Indian Village, a hospital, Grandmother’s Attic and so many other cool places. Hands-on really is encouraged and there are spaces for infants through age 13. 

The Gorgas House Museum

The oldest building on the University of Alabama’s campus is the Gorgas House Museum built in 1829. The building has served in many capacities over the years from a dining hall to campus hospital and was one of only four main buildings to survive the 1865 destruction of campus near the end of the Civil War. Now named for the family that occupied the home for a number of years, the Gorgas House Museum is a Tuscaloosa treasure. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, expect to find original Gorgas furnishings, some 19th century artifacts and lots of memorabilia. 

The Mildred Westervelt Warner Transportation Museum

A look at transportation through the years as it pertained to the City of Tuscaloosa’s development is well-documented at the Mildred Westervelt Warner Transportation Museum. Learn about local history, natural resources, and all things transportation by visiting the exhibits and/or attending educational programs offered by the museum located in historic Queen City Park along the Black Warrior River. 

Murphy African American Museum

The Murphy-Collins House is home to the Murphy African American Museum, dedicated to the individual families who lived in the home and to the history of African American culture and life in the Tuscaloosa region. Mr. Will J. Murphy was Tuscaloosa’s first licensed black mortician (and a successful businessman) and he built this as his personal residence bungalow in the early 1920s using salvaged materials from the old state capital building that burned in 1923. Schedule your tour and learn the fascinating stories that tell the history of Tuscaloosa’s African American community.

Northport Heritage Museum

The Northport Heritage Museum is an excellent place to trace the Native American history of this West Alabama city as well as the history of the area’s settlement. Look for special exhibits like the A.H. Bean World Photographic Collection and the Peterson Military Uniform Collection among others. It’s also important to note that this particular museum is only open the second and fourth Saturday of the month 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Old Tavern Museum

The Old Tavern is a rarity — one of only a few 19th-century inns that remains in Alabama. It is here that visitors are afforded a scarce glimpse of Tuscaloosa’s early commercial architecture. The Old Tavern served in numerous capacities from an inn (perfectly situated close to stagecoach stops) to a meeting place of legislators. It was even home to Governor John Gayle (1831-1835) for a time. In 1964, the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society acquired it through deed, relocated it to Capitol Park and took charge of a much-needed restoration project. Today, it is the known as the Old Tavern Museum and showcases Tuscaloosa County’s early history. 

Paul W. Bryant Museum

Open since 1988, the Paul W. Bryant Museum features an in-depth look at sports history within the University of Alabama. Detailing contributions as well as accomplishments of the University of Alabama collegiate athletes, fans can witness some well-preserved history. The popular museum exhibits artifacts and memorabilia following the football history of the University of Alabama via state-of-the-art displays. Learn about Alabama traditions such as the Elephant Story, Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, All-Time Lettermen and so much more. Plan your visit online and note that the Bryant Museum is walkable from your WestGate condo. 

No matter if you’re in town for the big game or a weekend of frolic, book your stay with WestGate and enjoy rooftop nightcaps with Bryant-Denny Stadium as your backdrop. 

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