Tellus, the Northwest Georgia Science Museum began as the William Weinman Mineral Museum in Cartersville in 1983. The 9,000 square foot museum became the administrative offices of the new 125,000 square-foot structure now housed on the same property. Divided into four main exhibit areas, the museum hosts one of the largest mineral collections in the world.
One of the attractions for early settlers of Bartow County was its mineral wealth. Over the years many minerals have been mined within the present-day county limits. One of the longest mined minerals is Potassium nitrate (saltpeter). Native Americans including the Moundbuilders dug for the mineral in the vicinity of Kingston, Georgia.
Of all the minerals mined in the north Georgia county, the museum mostly owes its existence to calcium carbonate, a commonly mined substance (in different forms known as limestone, marble or other names) in a variety of forms throughout north Georgia and northern Alabama. William Weinman, namesake of the original museum, pioneered the use of ground marble as a filler initially in rubber, paper and paint. He designed a specialized mill for grinding virtually any form of calcium carbonate to a powder which was first used in Alabama in 1918. The mill would be filled with ore and water, then rotated and the marble (or other mineral) would be ground to a powder. Weinman’s design was later adopted by almost all manufacturers, and Tellus exhibits an example of the mill. The one at Tellus had been in front of the original Weinman Mineral Museum.
The Weinman Mineral Museum originally opened in 1983 and was expanded in 1987. Twenty years later it was decided to expand the scope of the museum, building on the core mineral museum and the small fossil area. The Weinman closed in July, 2007 and was recreated as Tellus: Northwest Georgia Science Museum on January 12, 2009. Named in honor of Tellus, the Roman goddess of the earth (roughly equivalent to Gaia, the Greek goddess of the earth), the Weinman section became a portion of the administrative offices to the right as you face the building.
As you enter Tellus, the apatosaurus immediately draws visitors attention, looming straight ahead. but take a moment to stop at the ticket booths ahead on the right. Prices are moderate considering the content of the museum. Check out the planetarium and theater shows and times, making a note of the ones that you can see. On entering the Great Hall the apatosaurus looms as large as life, some 70 feet long from head to tail. Once also known as a brontosaurus, it was determined that the brontosaurus had been named the apatosaurus 2 years earlier.
As you enter the Great Hall, to the left of the brontosaurus is the entrance to the Tellus Planetarium. Shows rotate daily
10:15 am Two Small Pieces of Glass
11:00 am Live Tour of Tonight’s Sky
11:45 am Wilbear
12:30 pm Two Small Pieces of Glass
1:15 pm Oasis in Space
2:00 pm Wilbear
2:45 pm Live Tour of Tonight’s Sky
3:30 pm Oasis in Space
4:15 pm Two Small Pieces of Glass
The "Live Tour of Tonight's Show" was exactly what it said, showing stars and positions so you can find them at home, as long as you can identify your directions.
Much of the Weinman Mineral Museum's original content is in this gallery, which begins with a massive and enchanting purple amethyst. These naturally formed quartz crystals that get their color from iron and aluminum deposits. Another display has the mill used by the hall's namesake William Weinman to develop the barite mining in Bartow County, which he eventually took nationwide.
Rock Mill in Weinman Mineral Gallery
This mill, designed to grind marble (calcium carbonate) so it could be used to strengthen rubber, help paint dry faster, or improve the feel of high-end paper was built in 1918 and its design would be adopted by virtually every all manufacturers.
As the gallery wraps around displays introduce the minerals of Georgia. Displays are organized by geophysical regions including the Blue Ridge, Piedmont and Coastal Plains. It is amazing the wide variety of minerals in the state and between each region. One interesting display introduces the art of lapidary, or the polishing and shaping of rocks and minerals into "beautiful objects." Although the purpose of these spheres is purely decorative, the process dates back thousands of years. Another display talks about Georgia gold, showing areas where gold was mined from Augusta to the mountains and includes samples of refined gold and "in situ." Graves Mountain, west of Lincolnton, Georgia, which many geologists consider to be Georgia's most diverse mineral area, is also discussed with samples on display.
After the minerals of Georgia displays are a series of displays of minerals of the Tellus Museum from around the world.
The Fossil Gallery displays the fossilized skeletal remains of the earths first great creatures, the dinosaurs. Each dinosaur has an interpretative sign that gives its scientific name and its common name, species, size, active period and its diet. Below the common name Tellus gives a brief description of its importance and a map showing the known range and the location of the source skeleton.
An example of the information available on the Dromaeosaurus (American Raptor) includes that it was 7 feet long and 3 feet tall, lived in the late Cretaceous period and that it was a carnivore. The text indicates that this raptor had feathers, leading some paleontologists to believe that it is the ancestor to the birds of today.
In addition to the Dromaeosaurus, the musuem also has an excellent example of Tyrannosaurus Rex, a fixture in popular culture that roamed the western half of the North American continent just prior to the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event. Many paleontologists believe T. Rex was one of many creatures that did not survive this "event." Other skeletal remains include the Appalachiosaurus, the southeastern United States cousin of T. Rex (this example is created from a portion of one found in Georgia), unearthed in 1988 and the Edmontosaurus, or the Duckbilled Dinosaur. Check out the Bulldog Fish, a giant turtle, the mammut (American Mastodon) and a long-necked sea monster reminiscent of Bessie, the Loch Ness Monster.
The Science in Motion Gallery explores the relationship mankind has with powered vehicles designed to increase speed of travel. As you enter the gallery the Wright Brothers 1903 airplane, 40 feet wide and 21 feet long, is center stage, complete with Orville at the stick. Also in the first section are some turn of the century (start of the 20th century) cars, an early motorcycle and a small steam locomotive.
A second room expands on man's exploration of the atmosphere and space. One exhibit that immediately drew attention was a display of rockets. Starting with Robert Goddard's single-stage, liquid-fuel, controlled flight rocket in 1926, the exhibit displays the German V2 and the Mercury-Redstone and the Mercury-Atlas from the earliest American launches. A massive Saturn V, the rocket that took Americans to the moon, dwarfs the other rockets in the case. The display ends with the familiar external tank and solid rocket boosters from the space shuttle.
Also in this area are Mercury and Gemini capsules, a Bell Helicopter, the first commercially available in the country, the cockpit of a popular aircraft, and a Rolls Royce engine.
The "Big Backyard" is an interactive science display designed with kids in mind. Science experiments lurk behind every nook and in every cranny that the kids first discover and then participate in. Its best just to let the kids go and play in this area.
Another section designed specifically, the entrance is off the Science in Motion Gallery. The fossil dig is interesting because kids learn that the tool of choice for a paleontologist is a paint brush, not a trowel.