Today, you can imbibe as you stroll along Savannah’s historic streets with a to-go cup in hand. But it was a different story back when anti-alcohol sentiment swept the nation and prohibition became the law of the land. It’s the latter story that Savannah’s newest museum tells, and it is the first museum in the nation dedicated to relaying an account of this raucous period in U.S. history.

What will you see there? 

The new American Prohibition Museum tells an intoxicating story (perhaps a slight pun intended) of prohibition in America through immersive and interactive exhibits that take you back in time and walk you through history

As you tour the museum’s 13 galleries, you’ll see 30-plus life-size wax statues of people from that era in action poses. Reports are they look so real you’re tempted to pinch one just to check.

  • Vintage autos are part of the exhibits – a 1918 beer truck, a Tin Lizzie from the 1920s, a 1929 Peerless which was the type of car favored by gangsters like Al Capone and a 1936 Ford powered by a Flathead V8 engine that was ideal for hot-rod horsepower as a “runner.” 

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  •  Learn to make “white lightning” at the Moonshine exhibit or how to Charleston at the Flapper Craze exhibit. Get the feel of what it was like to shoot a Tommy gun at the Crime and Gangsters exhibit and stop by the Happy Days celebration saloon to raise a glass to the end of Prohibition.

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  • Take selfies with museum docents dressed in period costumes. They enthusiastically and expertly portray characters like gangsters, moonshine makers, flappers, rum runners and more. 
  •  View authentic local artifacts that help you connect Savannah to the national narrative, and get the skinny on why Savannah came to be known as the “Bootleg Spigot of the South.” 
  •  See technology in action through displays like talking portraits, and experience what life was like at that time as you move through themed rooms decorated like saloons and moonshine shacks. 

  •  If you are 21 years or older, whisper the password at the door of 220 Congress Street Up and be admitted to a 1920’s Speakeasy where costumed barkeeps serve prohibition style cocktails.

Why Savannah? 

You may or may not know that Savannah was in the running with six other cities for this new museum. And when you stop to think about it, what better choice could there be for this subject?

 Savannah, after all, has very old ties to alcohol prohibition. In 1735, King George II decreed that liquors were banned from what was then the colony of Georgia (there’s a plaque about this post at the museum’s entrance). Then too, when the state “went dry” in the early 1900s, Savannahians threatened to secede and start their own state so residents could drink booze. What’s more, the city was a favored destination for illegally “hauling hooch” from offshore. 

So, it makes perfect sense that Historic Tours of America picked Savannah as the museum spot.

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Where is it, what are the hours and the cost? 

  • The museum is located on W. St. Julian Street next to Ellis Square in the City Market. 
  •  Museum hours: Open every day 10 am to 5 pm (closed St. Patrick’s Day and will have special holiday hours). The self-guided tour takes about 45 minutes. 
  •  The Speakeasy is open 5:30pm-11pm on Thursday and 5:50pm-1am Friday and Saturday. 
  •  General Admission runs around $12 for adults and $9 for children.