Beginning of main content

Tennessee State Museum

From mastodon bones to dugout canoes, cotton gins to 12-string guitars, it’s easy to follow the trail of Tennessee history at this museum.

The Tennessee State Museum has a strong focus on the history of the South and holds one of the largest Civil War Collections in the USA. Its permanent exhibits cover more than 60,000 square feet (5,574 square meters) with an additional 10,000 square feet (929 square meters) devoted to ever-changing showcases. Set aside half a day to fully explore its many treasures.

The museum’s permanent exhibits are arranged in chronological order, making navigation easy. Start your visit by investigating the First Tennesseans exhibit. Here you’ll see relics from prehistoric and ancient Indian cultures, such as a shaman’s medicine tube.

Next, move to the Frontier section, which traces the often-bloody footsteps of the Spanish conquistadors, the English and French explorers, and the early European settlers. Step inside a log cabin and admire a covered Conestoga wagon, just two of the many full-scale replicas within the museum.

Learn about the state’s development in The Age of Jackson, dedicated to the life and times of the Southern general and plantation owner who became the seventh president of the United States. Then move on to the Antebellum section to admire the crafts, artworks and finery of a prosperous pre-Civil War Tennessee.

Look for the revolver once owned by Nathan Bedford Forrest, the infamous Confederate soldier turned Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, in the extensive Civil War and Reconstruction section.

Follow the stories of women's suffrage and Prohibition in the final permanent display, The New South. This section also contains many fine examples of crafts from the late 1800s and early 1900s, including a renowned collection of Tennessee pottery.

The museum resides on the bottom three floors of the James K. Polk Center near the State Capitol in downtown Nashville. It’s open Tuesday to Saturday, with the exception of major holidays. Paid parking is available in the adjacent parking garages, or on the street. The free Music City Circulator bus stops at the museum.


Guide to Exploring around Tennessee State Museum


Map

Lodging Near Tennessee State Museum

See all 621 Hotels near Tennessee State Museum
$69
Knights Inn Nashville Downtown

Knights Inn Nashville Downtown

99 Spring St, Nashville
2.9
of 5, from 507 reviews
1.5 out of 5.0

Located in Downtown Nashville, this motel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park and Nissan Stadium. Tennessee State Capitol and Ryman Auditorium are also within 2 mi (3 km).

$299
Omni Nashville Hotel

Omni Nashville Hotel

250 5th Ave S, Nashville
4.5
of 5, from 521 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

Located in Downtown Nashville, this spa hotel is steps from RCA Studio B Tour and Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Ryman Auditorium and Tennessee State Capitol are also within 1 mi (2 km).

$229
Renaissance Nashville Hotel

Renaissance Nashville Hotel

611 Commerce St, Nashville
4.4
of 5, from 534 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

It's about the tunes at this musical-themed hotel attached to Nashville Convention Center, 1 block from the Bridgestone Arena and 2 blocks from the 2nd Avenue Entertainment District. Nissan Stadium (formerly LP Field) is just 1 mile away.

$151
DoubleTree by Hilton Nashville Downtown

DoubleTree by Hilton Nashville Downtown

315 4th Avenue N, Nashville
4.1
of 5, from 634 reviews
3.5 out of 5.0

This hotel is in downtown Nashville, a block from the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, 2 blocks from the Tennessee State Museum, and within one-quarter mile of the Tennessee State Capitol.

$256
Hyatt Place Nashville Downtown

Hyatt Place Nashville Downtown

301 3rd Ave S, Nashville
4.5
of 5, from 579 reviews
3.0 out of 5.0

Located in Downtown Nashville, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Johnny Cash Museum and Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Ryman Auditorium and Nissan Stadium are also within 15 minutes.

$259
Sheraton Nashville Downtown Hotel

Sheraton Nashville Downtown Hotel

623 Union St, Nashville
4.1
of 5, from 116 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

Located in downtown Nashville, this Sheraton is a short walk to Bridgestone Arena, the Nashville Convention Center, and the historic Second Avenue District.

$149
Comfort Inn Nashville - Downtown

Comfort Inn Nashville - Downtown

1501 Demonbreun St, Nashville
3.4
of 5, from 862 reviews
3.0 out of 5.0

This downtown Nashville hotel is one mile from the Country Music Hall of Fame and seven miles from the airport.