Gone With the Wind Museum
If you have a thing for rustling petticoats, sweeping melodrama, and technicolor-tinted views of the Civil War South, then you're probably a fan of Gone With the Wind, the epic 1936 novel and 1939 Hollywood blockbuster.
The region around Atlanta, Georgia, is Ground Zero for "Windies" (Gone With the Wind devotees), with many sights linked to the book, film, and its author Margaret Mitchell. But if your time is limited, you can focus on its two most Wind-centric attractions: the Gone With the Wind Museum in Marietta and the Road to Tara Museum in Jonesboro.
Marietta has few ties to Gone With the Wind (it isn't even mentioned in the film) so why is a museum there? Most of its artifacts were collected by one man, Chris Sullivan, a medical doctor from Akron, Ohio. Sullivan wanted to showcase his collection, but he knew that Akron wasn't Atlanta. When a space opened next to the Marietta Museum of History -- in a former cotton warehouse -- Sullivan decided that Marietta was close enough, and filled it with what is probably the world's most complete Gone With the Wind collection.
The relic that brings the most attention to the museum is Scarlett O'Hara's silk honeymoon dress, the only surviving outfit from the movie on permanent display anywhere (Gone With the Wind's wardrobe was mostly deconstructed and reused in other films). But Dr. Sullivan was a thorough man, and his collection ranges from Margaret Mitchell's personal library of Gone With the Wind foreign editions to a 1940s Gone With the Wind pink lingerie set from Japan.
Distributed throughout the museum are Gone With the Wind soaps, perfumes, costume jewelry, board games, liquor, watches, music boxes, dress patterns, needlepoint pillow shams, paper dolls, magazines, cookie jars. Vivien Leigh's script satchel and monogrammed glass barware are here, sharing display space with a Scarlett O'Hara sock monkey. An exhibit of Gone With the Wind parodies includes Gone With the Wiener (a dachshund race), Gone with the Windbags (an anti-Bill-and-Hillary-Clinton political tract), and novelty items built around fart jokes.
You can flip through a framed page-by-page copy of the local newspaper on the day the film had its world premiere in Atlanta, and see the official program that removed the face of black actress Hattie McDaniel (Mammy) because racism was alive and well in Atlanta in 1939, Civil War or no Civil War.
Christy Hopper, the museum's exhibit coordinator, said that sometimes visitors will ask for directions to "Tara," Gone With the Wind's plantation home, not understanding that the story is a work of fiction. "I do wonder about that sometimes," said Christy, "and I worry about it a little bit." Margaret Mitchell herself was unhappy with how the film sometimes romanticized times and places and people that were not romantic. "Slavery wasn't a pleasant thing by any means," said Christy.
Nonetheless, the passionate tale of Rhett and Scarlett remains popular worldwide, particularly with women, said Christy, although visitors to the museum tend to be balanced between the sexes. "I think sometimes it's the women who bring the men," Christy said, "but the men enjoy it when they're here."