Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Uncle Remus Museum

I recently visited the Joel Chandler Harris home in Atlanta knowing that the following weekend in Eatonton, Georgia, I’d visit the Uncle Remus Museum. It’s in two adjoining log cabins at Turner Park a few blocks south of downtown on the main drag. The cabin is representative of the cabin Harris visited often as a child on a nearby plantation. There he first heard the stories from the slaves that he later wrote down and published as the Uncle Remus tales.

The museum charges $1 per adult for admission, and a docent knowledgeable about Harris’ childhood can give information and answer questions. The first room has a small gift shop area and prints from Disney’s movie interpretation of the stories, Song of the South. Also in the first room are carved wooden characters representing several of the well-known stories.

The second room is filled with household items from the Civil War era. They are labeled with what they are and in some cases, the name of the person who donated or loaned the item. The items are varied and include such things as old letters, a corncob pipe, a pair of children’s shoes and a carriage lantern. While these items are all interesting in their own right, what is obviously absent are the connections these items have with Harris’ childhood on the plantation. Clearly, many of the items were not used by Harris, though he likely would have used some like them. Are the items simply there to show what would have been available for use at a typical Georgia plantation home? Without helpful information posted visitors will never be sure.

If you must pick only one of the two Harris museums in Georgia, spend $8 and visit his home in Atlanta. The authenticity is what really impressed me. The detail that your tour guide will go into about Harris and his home and family is all extremely interesting and worth listening to. If you’d like a bit of plantation history and to see Civil War-era items, then stop in at the Uncle Remus Museum.

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