“Oooo! Look at that one!” I heard a boy exclaim as he looked at a fierce weapon on display at the eclectic, fascinating Berman Museum of World History in Anniston, Alabama. This is a museum that kids of both sexes and all ages LOVE.
I agree with Dana M on TripAdvisor who said, “I am amazed at the collection of thing to see and learn about at the museum. This would be great for school field trips….” And that’s exactly how Ruth & I saw it. At one point a 5th grade boy insisted that Ruth go upstairs with him to see a wicked looking medieval halberd.
Colonel Farley Berman spent 4 decades traveling the world, making deals, and collecting 6,000 rare and unusual pieces. He claimed his passion began at the age of 6 and while weapons seemed his specialty, he and his wife Germaine also had an eye for art. I’ve seldom seen, for example, such a fine collection of Remington bronzes. I started counting them and gave up when I came to “The Buffalo Horse”, the single most arresting Frederic Remington I’ve ever seen.
Even if you don’t like guns, you’ll be fascinated by Colonel Berman’s quirky collection, especially the small arms. I stared in total fascination at an L. Dohne French Apache Knuckleduster (see above) and a ten barrel Pecare & Smith 10-Shot Pepperbox. Perhaps the item I studied the longest was a “Little Joe” Crossbow dart, forerunner of today’s drone.
In a relatively new exhibit called “Peculiar Possessions” on the 2nd floor, visitors take a journey to the Bermans’ dark side described as they enter as a motley assortment of antique implements of torture, exotic masks, deadly spy weapons, etc. I was especially taken by the wooden cross that twisted into a dagger and a razor gun, which was exactly what its name suggested. Director David Ford told me that this recently assembled exhibit has been so popular that it will likely remain.
Much of what the Bermans’ collected has become truly priceless…Napoleon’s personal grooming items, Mussolini’s Wilkinson Abyssinian sword, a 1346 gold crown that was part of a coronation set of the Czech kings, a scimitar containing 3 pounds of gold and encrusted with 1,295 diamonds that once belonged to Catherine the Great, etc.
The Berman Museum is in Lagarde Park just north of downtown Anniston where Highway 431 and 21 meet. If your children’s reaction while traveling (and yours too) is, “Oh, no, not another museum,” go to the Berman and share some excitement together.