Date of Defense

Fall 12-1-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Art in Art and Design (MAAD)


The School of Art and Design


Museum Studies

Committee Chair

Peter Hriso

Committee Member

Dr. Jennifer Dickey

Committee Member

Dr. Terry G. Powis


By the 1990s, Atlanta's historic Fulton Bag & Cotton Mills (The Mill) had fallen into extreme disrepair. After operations ceased, the 19th-century factory suffered from years of neglect, forcing the decision to either demolish or rehabilitate its industrial structures. Fortunately, a choice was made to convert the majority of Fulton Bag & Cotton Mills’ buildings into residential lofts, despite the significant financial risk. The research related to this study aims to address whether the successfully renovated Fulton Bag & Cotton Mills could identify as an open-air museum.

Answers to this question were obtained from Primary Sources (such as interviews and emails from museologists and the mill management’s documentation housed in academic archives) and Secondary Sources (such as printed books and articles related to the history of The Mill, published biographies, and online resources that included relevant academic theses).

Research finds that the rehabilitated mill does, in fact, present itself as a public-history site and even incorporates many aspects of an open-air museum. While the educational presentation of The Mill’s history could be improved, the intangible and tangible history is adequately maintained and is sufficiently available to the general public. These findings, however, do lead to more questions. How could public access be improved? What entities will manage the open-air museum? What does an open-air museum mean for the current residents?