When the railway system was completed in 1857, Atlanta was named the Gate City, since it became the gateway from the Atlantic Ocean to the West. But, says Rodney Cook, CEO and Founder of the Gate Museum, it had no real gate.
The Millennium Gate and Museum were opened in 2008 and quickly became a favorite city landmark, he adds: "The neo-classical architecture of the building, the historical significance of the interior, and the beauty of the exquisitely landscaped park that surrounds the Gate all provide a visual oasis in the heart of Atlanta. An absolutely stunning island of classical beauty in the middle of the bustling city, the Gate offers people a peaceful setting to which people can escape."
The preliminary design for the Millennium Gate was created by the winners of an international competition. The design was developed by Hugh Petter of the London-based firm Robert Adam Architects and Cook. The Architect of Record is the American firm of Collins Cooper Carusi.
The classical design of the Gate is based on the Arch of Titus in Rome, and bears a Latin inscription on the frieze, which reads: "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."
The Gate Museum contains exhibits recalling and honoring the history of Georgia from the 18th century to the present. The Tocqueville Corridor documents the history of American philanthropy and period rooms recreate the worlds of the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
The monumental Gate is 100 feet tall and is related through design and conception to popular American landmarks like the Washington Square Arch in New York, the Tilton Memorial Arch in New Hampshire, the Newport News Victory Arch in Virginia, and the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch in Brooklyn. The exterior features eight-foot bronze statues of Peace and Justice by Alexander Stoddart of Scotland.
The Museum showcases the pioneering spirit of Georgia, says Cook: "The Millennium Gate houses the most comprehensive museum of Georgia history open to the public, which also hosts world-class art and history exhibitions annually." The Museum hosts many events including the Middelthon-Candler Gala. The Millennium Gate, Peace, and Justice Prizes are awarded at the annual event. The prizes were instituted by Matthew Middelthon, a descendant of Coca-Cola founder Asa G. Candler, and honor leadership in social change, the promotion of fraternity between peoples and nations, and excellence in the arts, sciences or business. The Gala is also a fundraiser for the Museum.
The Gate is a popular setting for private events, says Cook: "The serenity and the elegance of the setting make this an ideal location for weddings, receptions, and private parties." Cook feels the classical design improves the design of the city: "This is essential in planning for the longevity of any city, as desirability and sustainability grows with beautiful improvements. Further, the necessity of understanding history cannot be overstated, and as the most comprehensive museum of Georgia history, we are most capable of providing the information"