Nashville Museums: Must-sees During Vacation and Weekend Trips
Anyone visiting Nashville should add at least one museum to their bucket list. While the city is known for music, guests will also find a selection of special interest attractions that showcase cars, fine art, science and much more. There is even a raved-about children’s museum. So when it’s time to learn, have fun and see cool stuff, check out the top Nashville museums.
Nashville Museums Showcase the Best of Music City
Country Music Hall of Fame
Many visitors come to Nashville because it’s home to a thriving and famous country music scene. Hundreds of country music’s greatest artists have graced local stages, and several Nashville museums honor these legends. However, visitors may not have time to explore them all.
If that’s the case, then head to Country Music Hall of Fame. This museum collects and preserves the history and ongoing story of country music and its influence in the world. Through exhibits, publications and events, the museum showcases the industry so visitors can learn and explore. The collection includes 500 musical instruments, nearly 2,000 pieces of stage wear, thousands of photos, videos, recordings and other pieces. Plus, visitors can see a real letterpress print shop in action.
National Museum of African American Music
As one of the newest Nashville museums, National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM) has quickly become a must-see. It’s also the only one of its kind. This museum is dedicated to preserving and celebrating how African Americans influenced music genres throughout the world.
NMAAM showcases genres such as blues, jazz, gospel, spiritual, hip hop and others. Visitors will see short films, learn about African American traditions and culture, see historic musicians, explore civil rights and hear about current trends. The museum’s collection includes artifacts, memorabilia, clothing and objects used to create music.
Frist Art Museum
For fine art, explore Frist Art Museum. For more than 20 years, the museum has dedicated its mission to helping people see the world through art. All ages are welcome to see exhibits and learn about artists. The experience starts before entering the museum because the building once served as a post office and dates to the 1930s.
Exhibits change often. Past exhibits include Picasso, Albrecht Dürer, local youth, first-time voters, Dorothea Lange, Van Gogh, Eric Carle and Frida Kahlo. In addition, families enjoy the Martin ArtQuest Gallery where guests create their own works of art. After enjoying exhibits and hands-on activities, head to the gift shop. The shop has prints, books, jewelry, pottery, blown glass and souvenirs.
Adventure Science Center
Science and technology fans have a blast at Adventure Science Center. Ranked among the top Nashville museums for families with children, the center aims to expose visitors to the wonders of science.
Nearly 20 exhibits help guests learn and explore. A few include beekeeping, space, sound, weather and virtual reality. In addition, Adventure Science Center has traveling exhibits and interactive activities catered to different age groups. Guests also enjoy family fun labs, home-school programs, overnight trips, laser shows and Sudekum Planetarium.
Tennessee State Museum
Tennessee State Museum offers a one-stop shop for everything Tennessee. The museum collects, preserves and showcases the state’s history and residents. Visitors may see permanent collections and exhibits, as well as see temporary exhibits from around the world.
Permanent exhibits feature artifacts from Revolutionary War, Tennessee sports, natural history, Native Americans, African Americans and women. Traveling exhibits have showcased art representing local culture, wars and generals, women’s right to vote, and other topics relevant to Tennessee. In the children’s gallery, guests ages 3 to 8 learn through interactive activities and even walk across a giant map.
Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame
Sports fans rejoice at Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Tennessee residents take sports seriously and cheer on professional football, hockey, and soccer as well as collegiate football, basketball and baseball favorites. This museum showcases it all, including sports writers, athletes and coaches.
Currently there are more than 500 inductees representing baseball, golf, basketball, football, rafting, and track and field. To get here, just step inside Bridestone Arena – where the NHL Nashville Predators play. Guests will see artifacts, uniforms, photos and sports memorabilia. Popular topics range from Tennessee Titans, University of Tennessee, Middle Tennessee State University, Vanderbilt University and Tennessee Golf Foundation.
Tennessee Agriculture Museum
Agriculture plays an important role in communities. At Tennessee Agriculture Museum, visitors learn about the state’s farmers, growers and suppliers. To find it, visit Ellington Agricultural Center, a 207-acre site that serves as home to the museum, TN Department of Agriculture and TN Wildlife Resources Agency.
At the museum, learn how food is grown and produced, see antique equipment and wagons, and watch live demonstrations. In addition, the museum celebrates rural living and has more than 3,000 artifacts related to Tennessee history.
Lane Motor Museum
Lane Motor Museum welcomes car lovers. What began as a hobby has transformed into one of the top Nashville museums for all ages. The museum collects, preserves and presents cars, motorcycles, boats, planes and bikes. In fact, more than 150 are displayed.
Not all items appear at all times, making this a fun option for multiple visits. Cars date from the 1920s and feature popular and obscure makes and models. Visitors should expect to see imports, classic muscle cars, luxury antiques and famous automobiles. It’s also home to the largest collection of European cars in the U.S.
This 55-acre botanical garden features a museum and historic estate. The attraction has art exhibitions, gardens, and thousands of blooms year-round.
The Cheek family – from where Cheekwood got its name – collected paintings, furniture, textiles, sculptures and books. Visitors may see these examples when touring the home. Notable artists in the collection include Andy Warhol, John Sloan and local Nashville artists. Other pieces include silver, pottery, porcelain and Chinese snuff bottles. In addition, visitors enjoy sculptures along the Ann and Monroe Carell Jr. Family Sculpture Trail.
Other Nashville Museums: Honorable Mentions
Still not satisfied? Not to worry. Here are some honorable mentions that cater to other interests and ideas.
Johnny Cash Museum, The Parthenon, RCA Studio B, Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, Patty Cline Museum, Tennessee Central Railway Museum, Belle Meade Plantation, Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum, Madam Tussaud’s Nashville, Belmont Mansion, Cooter’s Nashville, Glen Campbell Museum, and The Upper Room Chapel.