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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


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Lodging Near Tennessee State Museum

See all 918 Properties near Tennessee State Museum
DoubleTree by Hilton Nashville Downtown $161
DoubleTree by Hilton Nashville Downtown

DoubleTree by Hilton Nashville Downtown

315 4th Avenue N, Nashville
     
    4.1
    of 5, from 2,511 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.

    Stay Alfred at 505 $163
    Stay Alfred at 505

    Stay Alfred at 505

    505 Church Street, Nashville
       
      4.6
      of 5, from 395 reviews
      4.0 out of 5.0

      Located in Downtown Nashville, this apartment building is within a 10-minute walk of Ryman Auditorium, Tennessee State Capitol, and Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Nissan Stadium and Vanderbilt University are also within 3 mi (5 km). Nashville Riverfront Station is 10 minutes by foot.

      Omni Nashville Hotel $269
      Omni Nashville Hotel

      Omni Nashville Hotel

      250 5th Ave S, Nashville
         
        4.6
        of 5, from 1,692 reviews
        4.0 out of 5.0

        Located in Downtown Nashville, this spa hotel is steps from Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and Music City Center. Johnny Cash Museum and Hatch Show Print are also within 10 minutes. Nashville Riverfront Station is 8 minutes by foot.

        Hyatt Place Nashville Downtown $179
        Hyatt Place Nashville Downtown

        Hyatt Place Nashville Downtown

        301 3rd Ave S, Nashville
           
          4.5
          of 5, from 1,984 reviews
          3.0 out of 5.0

          Located in Downtown Nashville, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Ascend Amphitheater and Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Nissan Stadium and Tennessee State Capitol are also within 1 mi (2 km). Nashville Riverfront Station is 5 minutes by foot.

          The Capitol Hotel, an Ascend Hotel Collection Member $142
          The Capitol Hotel, an Ascend Hotel Collection Member

          The Capitol Hotel, an Ascend Hotel Collection Member

          711 Union Street, Nashville
             
            3.7
            of 5, from 811 reviews
            3.0 out of 5.0

            This business-district hotel is within 3 blocks of the convention center, the Ryman Auditorium, and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center.

            Holston House Nashville - in the Unbound Collection by Hyatt $181
            Holston House Nashville - in the Unbound Collection by Hyatt

            Holston House Nashville - in the Unbound Collection by Hyatt

            117 7th Avenue North, Nashville
               
              4.6
              of 5, from 269 reviews
              3.5 out of 5.0

              Located in Downtown Nashville, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Bridgestone Arena and Ryman Auditorium. Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and Music City Center are also within 10 minutes. Nashville Riverfront Station is 10 minutes by foot.

              Clarion Hotel Nashville Downtown - Stadium $142
              Clarion Hotel Nashville Downtown - Stadium

              Clarion Hotel Nashville Downtown - Stadium

              211 N 1st Street, Nashville
                 
                4.1
                of 5, from 2,517 reviews
                2.5 out of 5.0

                Located in Downtown Nashville, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Fort Nashborough and Nissan Stadium. Tennessee State Capitol and Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum are also within 2 mi (3 km). Nashville Riverfront Station is 25 minutes by foot.

                Sheraton Grand Nashville Downtown $199
                Sheraton Grand Nashville Downtown

                Sheraton Grand Nashville Downtown

                623 Union St, Nashville
                   
                  4.3
                  of 5, from 674 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.