MILLENNIUM GATE MUSEUM
“Atlanta was proclaimed the Gate City in 1857 when the railroad system, which made Atlanta the gateway from the Atlantic Ocean to the West, was completed. It is more than fitting, then, for Atlanta to have a true Gate, one that pays tribute to the many accomplishments of the pioneers and generous philanthropists who made Atlanta the great world-class city that it has become.”
– Rodney Mims Cook, Jr., President, The National Monuments Foundation
The Millennium Gate Museum (The Gate) was designed by way of an international competition. The judges were among the most well respected architects and Deans of Architecture of our time: Michael Dennis of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Leon Krier of the Prince of Wales’s Institute of Architecture; Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Dean, University of Miami School of Architecture; Robert A. M. Stern, Dean, Yale University School of Architecture; and Carroll William Westfall, Chairman of Architecture, The University of Notre Dame. Ten winners were selected to collaborate on a preliminary design. The National Monuments Foundation then enlisted the expertise of Hugh Petter of the London-based firm Robert Adam Architects to work with Rodney Mims Cook, Jr., in developing these concepts into the architectural plan for the monument. In addition, Mr. Petter, who was responsible for sitting the monument within its park-like setting, worked with Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill who designed the museum’s period rooms. The American architectural firm Collins Cooper Carusi is the Architect of Record, with Sandy Cooper serving as Principal-in-Charge. The American Landscape firm, Tunnell and Tunnell, with Spencer Tunnell as Principal-in-Charge, has designed the grounds. The Gate opened on July 4, 2008.
Honoring Georgia’s Civic History
Great monuments in history have often been celebrated and anchored in time by the creation of magnificent structures. Grand in scale, these classically designed monuments contribute to the beauty of the urban landscape. Their grace and magnitude stand as quiet yet powerful witnesses to human yearning and eternal hope. These monuments of exquisite design uplift, inform, and inspire the citizenry.
Atlanta, a city with a rich history in business, industry, and innovation, has developed at a faster rate than global cities of comparative size and import. As a result of this, relatively few monuments or classical civic enhancements have been constructed in Atlanta. We believe that public works of art are vital to the spirit of a city, and Atlanta’s reputation as an international center of business and culture will only benefit from the creation of classical monuments.
The Millennium Gate Museum is a 100 foot tall monumental gate whose traditional exterior echoes Roman design ideals. The Gate houses the most comprehensive Georgia history museum in the state and hosts other world-class art and history exhibitions annually. The exterior features major original works of art by Alexander Stoddart of Scotland, one of the world’s sculptural giants. Its multiple galleries host a unique collection of interrelated displays and exhibits showcasing the pioneering spirit of Georgia. It pays tribute to the best of classical design and to the civic spirit of Atlanta, where much of the city’s early architecture arose during the Classical Revival of the early 19th century. The gate’s beauty exists as a constant reminder that the architectural principles which have inspired generations of people over the last two millennia go hand-in-hand with new urban environments, and that the classical virtues of the past still inform and unite people today. The Gate, with it stunning grounds, superlative sculpture and exquisite galleries, is a precious architectural and cultural gem for all generations, gracing our lives with beauty and affirming the highest ideals of humankind.
The inscription atop The Gate, written in Latin, translates to: This American monument is dedicated to all peaceful accomplishment, Anno Domini 2000. With this carving, the monument unabashedly declares that it has been dedicated to the ideal of peace, and to the peaceful undertakings witnessed in the past two millennia.
A Graceful Public Space for Gathering and Reflecting
Surrounding and embracing The Gate is an exquisitely landscaped park that is a visual oasis in Atlanta’s busy urban landscape. The grounds, which lie on the edge of a three-acre lake at Atlantic Station, feature an elliptical lawn framed by a colonnade. The colonnade is festooned with climbing roses – an appropriate choice since roses are the archetypical flower of great beauty. Flowering crabapples and cherry trees, whose delicate blossoms are a harbinger of spring in Atlanta, are planted in abundance, to provide welcoming shade and to lend the grounds a sense of permanence.
“When we travel throughout the country and the world, we realize how important it is to have public monuments like The Gate . You see such places in all great cities where art and beauty are presented on a grand scale for all to celebrate. Our hope is that The Gate in Atlantic Station is merely the first of many such places of beauty in our city.”
-Herman J. Russell, Chairman and CEO, Herman J. Russell & Company
Through its beauty and representational nature, public statuary can both ground and uplift a community. As part of The Gate, world-class monumental statues link Georgia to the universal virtues which the statues represent, and greatly enhance Atlanta’s built environment.
Two statues sculpted by Alexander Stoddart, a Scottish sculptor of international fame, grace The Gate. Two 8-foot tall statues, Peace and Justice, rest on 6-foot pedestals and weigh 1.5 tons each. They were cast in England and shipped to Savannah, Georgia, from whence the two bronzes were showcased on “A Monumental Journey,” a 10-city tour across the state via a caisson drawn by Percheron horses. Along the journey, the statues were accompanied by local and national dignitaries.
Stoddart’s Peace figure alludes to the glory of Greece in its high classical period. In the statue, Eirene (eye-REEN-ee), who in Greek mythology represents peace, rests a hand on the shoulder of the young Ploutos, who represents wealth. It is as though she is guiding and protecting him. In this allegorical manner, the statue gracefully and powerfully makes the argument that peace must nurture wealth.
Stoddart’s second seated statue at The Gate represents Dike (DEE-kay), who in Greek mythology represents justice. In this statue, Dike wears an Egyptian headdress and holds a sistrum, or Egyptian rattle, thus alluding to the antiquity and universality of the virtue of Justice.
Arches Through the Ages: Historical Precedents for The Millennium Gate Museum
The Gate, winner of the prestigious 2006 Palladio Award for design of a public space and crafted in part with limestone, which was selected for its beauty and age-old strength is designed in the tradition of the classical Roman triumphal arches that have been built across the world over the past 2,500 years
Arches have been built as testaments to human accomplishments and to the human spirit from the earliest ages. Arches are found at the heart of communities across the globe, from Algeria to Australia, from China to Croatia, from Gambia to Greece, from India to Italy, and from the United Kingdom to the United States.
Architecturally, the most obvious European precedents for Atlanta’s classical Millennium Gate Museum include the Titus Arch in Rome, the Carrousel Arch in Paris, the Siegestor Arch in Munich, and the Wellington Arch in London. Standing in the heart of great urban cities, these arches have become synonymous with their communities and have become well-loved for their grace, elegance, and history.
In the United States, revered arches include:
Washington Square Arch, in New York’s Washington Square;
Tilton Memorial Arch, in Tilton, New Hampshire;
Newport News Victory Arch, in Newport News, Virginia;
Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch, in Brooklyn, New York;
National Memorial Arch, in Valley Forge National Historic Park, Pennsylvania;
Vicksburg Memorial Arch, in Vicksburg National Military Park, Louisiana/Mississippi;
St. Louis Gateway Arch, in St. Louis, Missouri
Like other arches around the world, these arches on American soil have become gathering places where communities come together to celebrate and mark important civic occasions and celebrations.
While many arches have been built to celebrate military victories – to wit, Paris’s Arc de Triomphe was commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte to celebrate his victory at Austerlitz – and to memorialize soldiers who lost their lives in war, numerous other arches have been built to commemorate civic triumphs or to honor great human ideals.
In the 2nd century A.D., the graceful Arch of Trajan was constructed in Ancona in northeastern Italy to honor the emperor Trajan, who built the seaport city’s harbor at his personal expense. Two thousand years later, the marble arch still stands majestically at the harbor gate, a fitting tribute to an early philanthropist who obviously possessed a pioneering spirit.
More recently, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, was constructed in the 1960s to commemorate the western growth of the United States between 1803 and 1890. Designed by architect Eero Saarinen, the Expressionist stainless steel arch is a soaring tribute to the spirit of American pioneers. The iconic arch has become the crown jewel of St. Louis, and is an integral part of the city.
Another precedent-setting arch is the International Peace Arch. Straddling the international boundary between Canada and the United States, the arch was dedicated in 1921 by businessman and philanthropist Samuel Hill who built the arch to celebrate a century of peace between the two neighboring countries. Standing 67 feet tall, the classically styled arch attracts over 500,000 visitors annually.
In 1995, a group of American and Canadian citizens formed a nonprofit association to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Peace Arch. The association has produced a video titled “The Peace Arch Rises,” developed a “Portal of Peace” educational packet for school students, holds annual Dedication Day events, and established of the “Peace Arch Park International Sculpture Exhibition,” an international fine arts program featuring outdoor sculptures.