As Seen On Eatonton Development Authority and The Eatonton Messenger
By Katie O’Neal
The Eatonton Messenger
July 11, 2019
The Georgia Writers Museum (GWM) held its grand re-opening on Thursday, June 27. With many changes made, visitors will have an experience of a lifetime through audio, visual and interactive accessories added to the exhibits.
“The first thing that we did was to make a major change from a museum that focused primarily on education to one that was an experience, that connected with visitors in a way that was fun, inspirational as well as educational,” GWM Board member/museum Content Chip Bell said. “That meant altering the exhibits from being just things you read with pictures to [exhibits] that have artifacts and have stories, exhibits that allow visitors to physically engage more.”
Throughout the museum, there are places that visitors can lift things up to read or push a button to hear audio or watch a short video clip.
“[Adding interactive elements] is the biggest thing we’ve done in terms of changing the museum,” Bell said.
The three main exhibits in the museum feature novelist, short story writer, poet, essayist and activist Alice Walker, influential author and renowned journalist Joel Chandler Harris and novelist, short-story writer and essayist Flannery O’Connor. Walker and Harris were both born in Eatonton, and O’Connor lived most of her life in Milledgeville. Each exhibit has an original portrait painted by acclaimed artist Chris Cook hanging above them.
“There have been a lot of improvements,” GWM Board Member and Treasurer Kathleen Morency said. “Even if you’ve been here before, I would definitely come back.”
The Georgia Writers Museum is also the home of the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame exhibit. Museum curators note that there is no other physical place where people can see the entire Hall of Fame displayed.
“The Hall of Fame was established in 2000 as part of the University of Georgia’s Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library to honor Georgia writers and to introduce the public to the library’s rich collections for research into Georgia literature and cultural history,” according to www.georgiawritersmuseum.com .
When looking at the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame exhibit, the photographs of the writers cover an entire wall and run from the ceiling to the floor. The size of this exhibit shows visitors the impact literature has had on the people of Georgia before they even read the first biography. Some of the photographs turn, and then visitors can read a biography on the back.
“We’ve tried to create a more interactive experience for people because while we want to celebrate great writers, particularly the three that we focus on: Flannery O’Connor, Joel Chandler Harris and Alice Walker, we also want to celebrate people who value the literary world,” Bell said.
Journalists, professors and authors instruct workshops at the Georgia Writers Museum, and famous authors from the Hall of Fame participate in “meet the author” events to talk about their work.
“This [museum] becomes an incubator for literary talent, literary interest and literary development most of all,” said Bell. “That’s primarily what we’re about here.”
The Georgia Writers Museum is open Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Monday through Wednesday by appointment. General admission is $7. Students are $5, and children 5 years old and under are free.
“The mission of the Georgia Writers Museum is to create a new generation of readers and writers through the celebration of Georgia’s remarkable literary heritage, a heritage that illustrates the power of the written word to transform lives,” according to www.georgiawritersmuseum.com .
As Seen on Putnam Development Authority and The Eatonton Messenger
By Shannon Sneed
The Eatonton Messenger
April 25, 2019
As Georgia Writers Museum goes through an innovative renovation, curators are keeping doors open for literary lovers. Continuing to highlight local authors Joel Chandler Harris, Flannery O’Connor and Alice Walker, the exhibits displaying the popular storytellers’ history is getting a modern boost.
“Our board and volunteers have been working nonstop for several months to renovate and restage our museum exhibits,” said George Heiring, GWM President. “We plan to keep going to make them even more interactive and fun. We’ve included more short videos and ‘fun facts’ that will appeal to families and kids. We want to make Georgia Writers Museum a place you will come back to and bring your friends and neighbors.”
A new display at the Georgia Writers Museum in downtown Eatonton showcases award winning author Alice Walker, telling of the history of her birth and upbringing.
The museum already supports several organizations, including local students, by hosting educational activities. Renovation will allow for a more open venue for larger events as the new design incorporates collapsible bookcases.
Merging with the digital age to provide an interactive experience, the new arrangement is designed to attract new readers and veteran museum-goers alike. As they begin touring, visitors are greeted by a digital orientation narrated by Frank L. Stanton, the first professional columnist for The Atlanta Constitution and first poet laureate for the state of Georgia.
“Every story starts somewhere,” the narrator says. He notes that, after its founding in 2013, the Georgia Writers Museum began conducting workshops and offering a venue for book signings. Later, the museum began collaborating with the University of Georgia to exhibit the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame “to recognize Georgia writers, past and present, whose work reflects the character of the state – its land and its people.” The digital version of Stanton then invites visitors to follow the timeline where the lives and literary achievements of the authors are featured. “When you finish, we’ll talk again,” he says.
Heiring noted that GWM is planning a grand reopening in late June for its first phase. “But we are already open for visitors on Thursday, Friday and Saturday every week if they will overlook a little sawdust,” he said.
Amanda holds a BS in Biology from Georgia College & State University. She began her career as an educator with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. After leaving the DNR, Amanda became a formal educator with Baldwin County School System and Jasper County School System. Amanda began her museum career at the Museum of Arts and Sciences (MAS) in Macon, Georgia, where she served as Curator of Environmental Science
(2011-2020). While at MAS, Amanda developed a love for sharing the world around us with the many students who visited on school field trips. During her time as Curator of Environmental Science, Amanda launched a storytime
program for preschool children.
Since 2020, Amanda has been serving Georgia Writers Museum as a volunteer on the Education Committee. Amanda has brought her love of sharing stories with students by launching Peaches’ Reading Pasture. As Museum Manager, Amanda looks forward to serving the community and helping to inspire those within our community to put words to paper and share their stories.
Amanda was born and raised in nearby Shady Dale, Georgia. Her husband, Rodney, is a native of Eatonton, and they currently reside in Putnam County. They have three children.