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Historic hand tools at Funk worth a look

Canoe Kids
There are plenty of hands-on activities in the Hall of the Ancients for kids to check out. The centerpiece in the Hall is a huge rock called a petroglyph.

Canoe Kids
By Melissa Lowrie
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Photos by Melissa Lowrie

Melissa Lowrie
Melissa Lowrie

A recent rainy day found me with a need for an indoor activity. If you seek fun with some educational opportunities thrown in for good measure, check out Funk Heritage Center in Waleska.

The Funk Heritage Center opened in 1999 on the campus of Reinhardt College. Housed within the center are the Bennett History Museum, the Frontier and Southeastern Indian Interpretive Center and outside, the Appalachian Settlement. The center is a hidden gem of interesting regional and historical items.

After paying admission fees, ($6 for adults, $4 for children) be sure to pick up the yellow brochure called “Funk Fun.” It’s a little scavenger hunt perfect for the elementary-age set. Little kids would get a kick out of hunting as well, but would need a bit of assistance.

On the afternoon we visited we didn’t have a chance to view it, but the film “The Southeastern Indians,” runs in the theatre. My group that day, a third, fourth and fifth-grader, started their self-guided tour in the back at the Hall of the Ancients. The centerpiece of the room is a huge rock called a petroglyph; you can still see the circles carved by Native Americans years ago.

These arrowheads are on display in the hall past the gift shop.

In another corner of the Hall of Ancients is the archeology office where kids can check out what it’s like to be a professional treasure hunter. In Waleska’s Corner there are different animal skins, antlers, turtle shells and other items kids can touch. There are also puppets and books in this area.

Canoe Kids
In Waleska’s Corner there are different animal skins, antlers, turtle shells and other items kids can touch. A canoe hangs in the Grand Lobby.

There are two art galleries: Bluffington for temporary exhibits and Rogers, which houses the permanent collection. The scavenger hunt takes kids to the Rogers Art Gallery to hunt for the small basket that looks like a frog, beaded purses and a painting with ladies using turtle rattles.

The most impressive exhibit we saw that day was the Sellars Collection of Historic Hand Tools. The walls are filled with ... you guessed it ... tools! This unique collection boasts panels of every size and shape of tool from more than 100 crafts, spanning history for over 300 years.

The massive collection honors Marietta businessman Joseph Alan Sellars. He was a collector of antiques, fine paintings and old tools. In 1978, Sellers built panels to display the collection in his hardware store; he was still creating panels until his death in 1991. In 1998 Sellars’ widow Louise donated his collection to the Bennett History Museum.

As stated in the “Tools of the Trades” brochure, “Tools empower the individual to improvise, create, and make life easier. They tell the story of the rise of craft and technology. Forged by the blacksmith, form and function often dictate the design of a tool ... like the object being created, the tool becomes a work of art itself.”

The gift shop (strategically placed on the way to the Hall of Ancients) has unique offerings and books—definitely worth a stop.

Had the day been rain-free, we would have checked out the native garden, walking trail and the Appalachian Settlement on the property. Log cabins and farm buildings give visitors an idea what pioneer life was like. Settlement structures are open during special events. Check out the website for details,

The hours of operation are Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. There is a huge spot out front with picnic tables, so if it’s a nice day, pack a picnic.

Check out the Funk Heritage Center and don’t miss the tool exhibit, it’s worth the price of admission. If you can’t make it to Waleska, enjoy another outing with your Canoe Kids. Wherever you end up, have a great time.

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