You’re toes will be tappin’ in no time at this incredible country-music-history hoedown.
This multi-million dollar institution celebrates and preserves every conceivable genre of country music. From bluegrass to swing, from Cajun to contemporary, there’s something for every ear. As you approach the building, pause to look for symbolism within the architecture, including the piano key-styled windows.
The museum archives hold copies of 98 percent of all prewar country music ever recorded. It preserves hundreds of miles of film and television footage, thousands of photographs, playbills and posters, and hundreds of oral histories. There are over 800 stage costumes, 600 instruments and hundreds of other artifacts from microphones to automobiles. So extensive is the collection, only 10 percent can be exhibited at any one time. Thankfully these artifacts are in constant rotation.
Begin your journey in the first permanent exhibit, Sing Me Back Home: The Journey Begins, Folk Roots to the 1960s. The second exhibit, Dreaming My Dreams: The Journey Continues, 1960s to Present, covers more familiar stars, from Johnny Cash to Keith Urban. Both exhibits are highly entertaining; listen to recordings, watch archival footage and be dazzled by the rhinestone costumes. Stop by the central, glassed-in archive area for a view of staff preserving and restoring country music treasures.
The last stop before exiting the museum is the Hall of Fame Rotunda. Here you'll find the plaques of each Hall of Fame recipient, from Jimmie Rodgers to Garth Brooks.
Take a walk in Elvis’s blue suede shoes at the Historic RCA Studio B. Just a short drive away on Music Row, for an additional fee (transportation provided) visitors can take a tour of the legendary studio where 35,000 songs were recorded.
The museum is open daily with the exception of major public holidays. Meals and snacks are available at the acclaimed Two Twenty Two Grill, and the museum store specializes in autographed, limited edition, and hard to find items.
The museum is located in Nashville’s downtown, only a few blocks from Riverfront Park. Discounted parking is available nearby or you can get here via the free Music City Circulator bus service.