In our recent travels around Alabama, we visited Montgomery and the Rosa Parks Museum. The museum and library is in a beautiful, relatively new building on the corner where Rosa Parks was arrested and where once stood a movie theater. Troy University, which operates the museum, was going to tear down the theater and build a parking lot, but an effort was organized to establish the museum.
There are two parts to the museum tour, a Children's Museum with a theme-park style ride and the main museum. The Children's Museum attraction is a bus transformed into a time machine that uses video and special effects to take visitors through reenactments of black American history starting in the early 1800s up to the time of Rosa Parks' arrest. Upstairs there's a digital library and research center. Unless you have kids, I'd recommend skipping the time machine exhibit.
The main museum has extensive exhibits and artifacts from the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, which gave way to the modern civil rights movement. Along with the other exhibits, there's a replica bus with a unique video presentation projected through the bus windows portraying Rosa Parks' arrest.
The visit is a little too structured and controlled for my liking. There's a mandatory introductory video, and a tour guide accompanies you through the museum telling the story and explaining the exhibits before letting you go back and study them at your leisure. Photography is not allowed in most of the museum areas. Still, it is definitely worth a visit if you're in Montgomery.
On our way out of town we spotted the Hank Williams Museum, which naturally we had to visit. No photography allowed there, either, but they had tons of great memorabilia, including costumes, instruments, recording contracts, royalty payment statements, letters, furniture and so on. They also have the Cadillac Hank Williams was riding in when he died from a heart attack at the age of 29. He had just hours before left Knoxville on his way to a performance in West Virginia.
Downtown Montgomery is pretty and there's some cool old architecture and of course the imposing state capitol building. There's also a very nice waterfront park. Curiously, everything was deserted -- it was like a ghost town. Click the above image for some photos.
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