Guide to visiting the Carter Presidential Center

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Guide to visiting the Carter Presidential Center

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John Spink
Visitors enter the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum on Aug. 13, 2015

Built in the '80s, the Carter Center and adjoining Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum (collectively known as the Carter Presidential Center) sit on a 35-acre park east of Downtown Atlanta.

Never been, or haven't been back in a while? Here's a guide to visiting.

Where: The Carter Center is located at 435 Freedom Parkway, and is easily accessible off of the Downtown Connector, heading toward Little Five Points. The library is next door, at 441 Freedom Parkway. The center is surrounded by greenery and water and a nondenominational chapel. Click here for directions.

When to go: The center, a nonprofit think tank affiliated with Emory University, is only open to the public by appointment or for special events, but the museum and library are open throughout the week.

The museum's hours are 9 a.m.-4:45 p.m. Monday-Saturday and  noon-4:45 p.m.on Sunday. The library's hours are 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Cliff Stayton browses the displays at the Plains High School Museum and Visitor Center after riding the train into Plains for the day Saturday August 15, 2015. Ben Gray

Cost: Admission to the museum is $8 for adults; $6 for seniors (ages 60 or older), military and college students; and free to children ages 16 and younger.

Some quick history: The complex first opened in 1986, and the library was substantially renovated and then reopened in 2009. The land on which it all sits was a part of General Sherman's headquarters during the Civil War's Battle of Atlanta.

Carter's vision of the presidential center was as a peaceful place, like Camp David, "where seemingly unresolvable international conficts could be worked out through mediation ... (with) a policy center where scholars could seek solutions to issues of human rights, arms control, hunger, health, environment and world peace," the AJC's Howard Pousner wrote in 1986.

What to see: The library and museum together comprise almost 70,000 square feet of space, including more than 15,000 square feet of exhibit space and about 27 million pages of White House material during Carter's presidency as well as 500,000 photographs and hundreds of hours of film, audio and video.

The library also hosts ongoing special events — some of them free. It's a regular stop for authors on tour, for instance.

The museum also includes a permanent exhibit of significant events from Carter's life and career; an exact replica of the Oval Office, down to the furnishings, from his 1976-1981 presidency; and his Nobel Peace Prize, awarded in 2002.

But the grounds and gardens that surround the center can be equally attractive to visitors. They are open to the public 6 a.m.-9 p.m. April-October and 7 a.m.-7 p.m. November-March.

The grounds include several distinctive features (and two lakes!), such as a display of all 50 U.S. flags and "Sightless Among Miracles," a sculpture depicting a child leading a blind man which represents the Carter Center's efforts to combat river blindness. Click here to learn more about the grounds.

RECOMMENDED VIDEO: President and founder of The Carter Foundation Jimmy Carter discusses the work taken to eradicate the Guinea worm

President and founder of The Carter Foundation Jimmy Carter discusses the work taken to eradicate the Guinea worm. (David Barnes/AJC)
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