Yesterday I believe I promised you the scoop on Hitler’s tea service.
Our first stop in Anniston, after driving from Mt. Cheaha with air conditioning and metal music blaring, was the Berman Museum of Natural History. This little gem is located in Lagarde Park in Anniston Alabama next to the Anniston Museum of Natural History. As I said, we put this place on our must visit list because of Hitler’s tea service, yes, but also because it promised a collection of cool spy gadgets, such as a flute that had been modified to shoot a .22 caliber bullet when a certain note was played. What can I say, A thinks anything that shoots is cool. No, we do not own any guns. 😉
I live in Alabama and I never would have heard of this museum had I not seen it on the Roadtrip America website when we were looking for unusual sites to see.
It was listed as an odd place because of the tea service. I have to admit this was intriguing. Hitler’s tea service in Alabama? Really? What? But let me tell you, the place was much more than we imagined. And yes, although it did contain the advertised tea service, which, for some reason was highly amusing to see in Anniston, but the museum contained a collection of art and artifacts collected by Colonel Farely Berman and his wife, Germaine. And quite the collection it is!
Colonel Berman was stationed in North Africa during WWII, and it was there that he met his wife, Germaine. She was a French National and a member of French Intelligence. They were married and returned to Anniston to live for the remainder of their lives.
The Berman’s shared a passion for collecting things. They spent four decades traveling the world together. He stated that he collected rare weapons and she collected works of fine art. Although the Berman’s shared their collection with those that were interested, in 1992, they bequeathed their collection to their hometown. The Berman Museum opened in 1996 in Lagarde Park with a portion of the Berman’s collection, and in 1999, Colonel Berman passed away, leaving the remaining objects to the foundation.
All right, there’s the history lesson portion taken from various things I read about the Berman’s and their collection.
We arrived at the museum and bought the combo ticket for both the Berman and the museum of natural history next door – we believed we had plenty of time, as I’d read you could spend an hour at the Berman Museum. We ended up spending a little over two hours at the Berman, and then having to run through the museum of natural history just to see it before it closed. And I had to practically drag A away from it.
This collection is AMAZING to say the least.
Mostly weapons, yes, but the military history in this building is informative and interesting. Every type of gun imaginable, plus military artifacts. A particularly touching piece, to me, was the handwritten diary of a soldier, along with the Nazi banner that he had captured. There is spy gear too – a pen that shot vials of poisonous gas, the altered flute I mentioned earlier, and guns disguised in belt buckles, throat lozenge tins, and match boxes.
Aside from Hitler’s tea service, there is a vanity set that belonged to Napoleon. There are dinner napkins from Mussolini’s palace, along with photos of his parents. There is a jewel encrusted Royal Persian scimitar as well as the coronation set of Czech kings – the crown was made in 1346. And those aren’t the only jewel encrusted items in this museum! There is also quite a collection of Remington bronze sculptures.
Lucky for us the Berman’s chose to leave their collection to Anniston, rather than donate to one of the bigger museums that definitely wanted it.
Photos you ask? I happen to have some!
We just loved this museum. Hopefully we will get to visit again some day.
We had just enough time to tour the Museum of Natural History. It was actually a very nice museum. To me, though, when you’ve seen one small town natural history museum you’ve kind of seen them all – and if you’ve been fortunate enough to visit the Smithsonian, well, what’s left? Okay, I’ll admit it – as much as I love museums and history and learning new things, natural history museums aren’t my favorite. I said it. There.
They did have a lovely garden outside.
And if you are in Anniston Alabama there is just one more site you have to take in. Or at least there was for us. Looking for the odd and unusual? You don’t have to look any further than Noble Street where you will find the world’s largest chair, per the 1982 Guinness Book of World Records.
I’m just not sure how one can top a a gigantic chair, but onward we traveled to Cullman, Alabama where more sites awaited.
to be continued…