View ancient treasures and objects from all over the world.
Oil paintings, intricate jade sculptures, expressive Remington bronzes, ancient and modern weapons, photos, clothing, hands-on displays and lifelike dioramas fill the galleries, bringing history to life through the eyes of artists and craftsmen.
The Berman Legacy
Farley Berman was born in Anniston in 1910. After attending the University of Alabama, he graduated with a law degree from Emory University in 1934. While practicing law in Atlanta, Berman also joined the Army Reserve in 1937 and enlisted in 1941 after Pearl Harbor. He spent much of his time in the service in Military Intelligence. He met his wife Germaine while he was stationed in North Africa in World War II. She was a French National and a member of the French Intelligence. As Berman later recalled, "I was spying on her, and she was spying on me." They were married in 1945 and returned to Anniston to make their home and live for the remainder of their lives.
Farley Berman suggested that his collecting began at the age of 6. "I started with a little .22 caliber rifle, one thing led to another and I ended up with the collection I have today." Weapons certainly remained a fascination for Berman, but he also gathered historic objects and "older things" from the time he was at school at Emory.
Germaine shared his passion for collecting, "She collected almost as many items as I did," Berman later recalled. They spent four decades traveling the world together; he collected rare weapons and she collected works of fine art. "I used up four passports, which gives you some idea how much traveling I did. I had dealers and collectors all over the world."
Berman preferred to remain mysterious when asked how he acquired much of his collection. Some pieces, he suggested, might have made their way home in his bedroll after World War II; others, he liked to say, simply appeared in his house. In fact, the Bermans were very astute and conscientious collectors. They worked closely with dealers, other collectors and well-known auction houses to make many of their acquisitions. Other objects were purchased as they traveled and may have been found in antique shops and at flea markets.
Included in the collection are hundreds of bronzes, paintings by European and American artists, historically significant artifacts, ethnographic material, art from Asia, weaponry, and historical documents.
The Bermans also spent time building a collection of books to learn about the things they loved. Berman told new collectors to spend their first few bucks on books, "that way you will know what you are doing. Become very familiar with the items you prize."
The Bermans regularly shared their treasures with those who were interested, either through loans to museums and galleries, or through tours of their home. Although several museums and institutions expressed an interest in the Berman collection, in 1992 Farley and Germaine bequeathed it to their hometown of Anniston, with the wish that others could learn the significance of the objects from a historic perspective. Farley Berman said of the choice, "Germaine had two loves: Paris and Anniston. Paris had the Louvre, and doesn't need any more museums".
In 1996, the Berman Museum opened in Lagarde Park, Anniston, Alabama. Lagarde Park is also home to the Anniston Museum of Natural History, a nationally accredited museum. Initially, the Berman Museum managed only a portion of the 6,000-plus piece collection. In 1999, Colonel Berman passed away leaving the remaining objects to the foundation. Ongoing research continues to reveal fascinating new information about the objects.
Today, the Berman Museum is visited by thousands of people from around the world. Special events allow fresh interpretation of the material in the Berman collection. The collection continues to entertain and inspire new generations, just as the Bermans envisioned.
Click here to see what sorts of items are on exhibit at Berman Museum of World History!