At 89,000 square feet, the Columbus Museum is one of the largest museums in the southeast. It focuses on American fine and decorative art as well as the history and culture of the Lower Chattahoochee River Valley. It is located on the former estate of Columbus industrialist W.C. Bradley. The museum incorporates his home (built in 1912) and a modern addition built in 1989. The history exhibits explore the region's past from the time of the early Native American inhabitants to today. Specific periods and topics include the Colonial era, slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and industrial development. The art collection covers these same periods as well and features portrait paintings, works on paper, landscapes and furniture.
The museum opened in 1953 as the Columbus Museum of Arts and Crafts. After Bradley died in 1947, the family donated the estate to the city on the condition that it be used for cultural and educational purposes. At first the museum focused on fine art and Native American artifacts but over time this widened to include all mediums of art and artifacts that help to shed light on the valley's long history. The expansion in 1989 allowed to museum to grow even further, providing room for more educational programming and exhibit space.