Permanent Exhibits

Faces of Mobile

For over three centuries, people have come to Mobile. Many came seeking new opportunities, a fresh start, or a better life. Others came because they were forced. They were immigrants, political refugees, artists, merchants, builders, teachers, and slaves. These men and women made Mobile the city that it is today. They were pioneers.


CSS Alabama Cannon

From the entrance to Old Ways, New Days, visitors can get an upclose glimpse of Confederate Naval history in a 700 square foot gallery with a particularly heavy centerpiece: one of the original eight cannons from Civil War commerce raider ship CSS ALABAMA.

Having been captained by Mobile's Admiral Raphael Semmes, the Alabama sank in about 200 feet of water off of Cherbourg, France, after an engagement with the Union's USS Kearsage in 1864. The deck gun is approximately 10 feet long and weighs 5,000 pounds (2.5 tons).


The Mary Jane Slaton Inge Gallery

Visit The Mary Jane Slaton Inge Gallery, our new permanent exhibit displaying some of the finer things of life in Old Mobile. The gallery is named for one of our longtime volunteers and friends, Mary Jane Slaton Inge, who was a lifelong resident of the Port City. 

The exhibit includes some of the History Museum's finest pieces, including Boehm porcelain, Baccarat crystal, Limoges china, souvenirs from several of Mobile's oldest mystic societies, sculptures, paintings, and other decorative arts. A portrait of Inge by local artist Susan Downing-White now hangs outside of the exhibit.


The Friedman Miniature House Gallery

When Aaron Friedman sold his business in the late 1970s, he began looking for “something to do” in his spare time. His daughter-in-law suggested that he “build a dollhouse” for his oldest granddaughter. That project took on a life of its own that occupied a significant portion of the last 20 years of Aaron’s life.

Ultimately, Aaron built the eight magnificent miniature houses that are now located at the History Museum of Mobile – one for each of his granddaughters and one for his wife, Sarah. Each house is built to exacting one-inch-to-one-foot scale and took a year or more to plan and build. For two of the houses, Friedman copied actual houses in Mobile (the “Tacon-Tissington-Barfield” and “McGowin-Creary” houses on Government Street).

Architectural details are impressive in their detail. Each house has siding made of real wood, real fired bricks, or hand-cast stone tiles; a roof made asphalt or clay tile shingles or metal panels, doors and windows that open and close, and a working electrical system for the tiny lamps and chandeliers, all of which light up.

Aaron and Sarah collaborated to plan, furnish, and decorate the interior design of each house. The décor of rooms is always in the style of the house, ranging from ornate wallpapers and fabrics and massive furniture in the Victorian era house to contemporary colors in the modern homes.

It’s hard to believe the tiny accessories that one might find when looking closely. There are china table settings in the dining room, canned and boxed foods in kitchen cabinets, fresh fruits and vegetables sitting out on a butcher block, potted plants and handmade flower arrangements, tiny figurines and cloisonné vases, and elegant artwork hanging on the walls. But it’s the small touches that give the homey, “lived in” atmosphere to each of Friedman’s miniature houses: a pair of eyeglasses left casually atop a book, actual family portraits, newspapers, magazines, and books sitting on bedside tables, stuffed toys strewn on the nursery floor, bedroom slippers at the foot of the bed, and monogrammed towels in the bathroom. As a final touch, each house features a photo of the “owner” over the fireplace or on a bedroom dresser. Can you find the photo in each house?

Sarah Friedman made the petit point rugs found in each house, numerous needlepoint and cross-stitch pillows, chair cushions, and wall hangings, as well as other interior details such as the luxurious, fluffy towels for the bathrooms. A family friend, Pearl Brook, made many of the window treatments, bedspreads, and other details found throughout each of the eight houses.


Walls and Halls

As you walk to your exhibit gallery destination, please view the items on display from our collection in the halls and on the walls. Furniture, antique silver and artwork are among some of the artifacts on display.


Old Ways New Days Part I

This exhibit takes you back in time to Mobile’s first inhabitants, the Native Americans. As you embark on your journey back to the present time you will learn about Mobile’s fascinating 300 year history which includes Colonial era, Slavery, WWII, the Civil Rights movement in Mobile, and more.


Old Ways New Days Part II

This exhibit explores Mobile’s history using topical themes that are interesting to everyone. Interactive exhibits are interspersed with exciting artifacts that tell the stories of Mobile’s disasters, diversity, recreational activities, local industry and much more.