Museums sure aren’t like they used to be. Gone are the static exhibits of old—enter interactive, experiential learning!

History is often overlooked in favor of science, as it isn’t tangible and we can’t always see why it matters. So a bunch of people died in a war, so what? Let’s go build a potato alarm clock. But history is so much more than a collection of dates, battles and old buildings! It is connected to everything, and sometimes we need help to see that. We need to experience it to see it. Luckily, Gwinnett has not one but two nearby history centers to help:

Northeast Georgia History Center

When guests walk into the Northeast Georgia History Center (NEGAHC), they’re greeted by a fully renovated 18th century cabin, sitting right smack in the middle of the center. Called Whitepath after the Cherokee tribal leader who owned it, the cabin was relocated from its home in Elijay and now exists as a focal point for NEGAHC’s new living history program.

Incorporating the power of storytelling with the tools of modern technology, living history works to bring history to life—to make moments real for the viewer. At NEGAHC, Whitepath Cabin and other structures help serve as the stages for these stories.

For example, each summer NEGAHC holds chautauquas, which are like TedTalks for historical figures. In the past, such voices as Frederick Douglas and Harriet Tubman have stepped onto the stage to deliver a monologue of their lives and take questions from the audience. Throughout the year, Family Days bring together several historical figures and exhibits themed around topics such as ‘Exploration’ or ‘Plough to Plate’.

But the living history program isn’t just fixed to the 4+ walls of NEGAHC. Schools and other organizations can also request the use of the NEGAHC Travel Trunk, an on-the-go box of tangible historical goodies, or work with NEGAHC staff to develop curriculum-specific programming for the classroom.

Perhaps one of the most successful mediums for the living history program is the Digital Studio. Thanks to green screen technology and NEGAHC staff performers, any moment in history can be brought to life and broadcast anywhere! Live Q&As with Patrick Henry can be brought into the classroom, or the process of making an arrowhead can be demonstrated with vivid clarity. You can even take a virtual tour of the NEGAHC galleries!

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Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center

Like NEGAHC, the Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center (GEHC) also seeks to share the living memories of our local community. Gwinnett’s history is a collection of many individual stories comprised from an immensely diverse group of people. Did you know that Snellville’s founders were teenagers who left London in search of a new life in America? Or that one of the first-ever female country music recording artist was a teenager from Dacula?

Based on the belief that history can’t be taught in a silo, programming at GEHC interweaves history, science, technology, math, engineering, the arts and more. An example of this connection of disciplines is an upcoming a nature photography exhibit, highlighting natural resources and the environmental landscapes that influenced the community throughout its past. Another exhibit, entitled ‘Roots of Wisdom: Native Knowledge – Shared Science,’ enables visitors to learn the ways in which the traditional knowledge of Native American communities is being combined with cutting-edge science to improve our world. Hands–on interactive stations and clever video games help bring this exhibit to life.

Each month GEHC also incorporates hands-on interpretation, live demonstrations and other activities spotlighting different themes. Visitors have had the chance to meet Button Gwinnett, discover the importance of the railroad to the county’s past, learn how cotton and the boll weevil impacted the population, and how the building of Lake Lanier and I-85 helped pave the way for the modern Gwinnett we know today.

For more info, visit