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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 1,417 Properties near Tennessee State Museum
Comfort Inn Downtown Nashville-Vanderbilt $99
Comfort Inn Downtown Nashville-Vanderbilt

Comfort Inn Downtown Nashville-Vanderbilt

1501 Demonbreun St, Nashville
     
    3.5
    of 5, from 3,357 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.

    Stay Alfred at 505 $100
    Stay Alfred at 505

    Stay Alfred at 505

    505 Church Street, Nashville
       
      4.5
      of 5, from 711 reviews
      4.0 out of 5.0

      Located in Downtown Nashville, this apartment building is within a 10-minute walk of Ryman Auditorium, Bridgestone Arena, and Tennessee State Capitol. Nissan Stadium is 1.1 mi (1.8 km) away. Nashville Riverfront Station is 10 minutes by foot.

      Clarion Hotel Nashville Downtown - Stadium $100
      Clarion Hotel Nashville Downtown - Stadium

      Clarion Hotel Nashville Downtown - Stadium

      211 N 1st Street, Nashville
         
        4.1
        of 5, from 2,867 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 Bridgestone Arena are also within 2 mi (3 km). Nashville Riverfront Station is 25 minutes by foot.

        Omni Nashville Hotel $269
        Omni Nashville Hotel

        Omni Nashville Hotel

        250 5th Ave S, Nashville
           
          4.6
          of 5, from 1,893 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.

          Sheraton Grand Nashville Downtown $161
          Sheraton Grand Nashville Downtown

          Sheraton Grand Nashville Downtown

          623 Union St, Nashville
             
            4.3
            of 5, from 844 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.

            Holston House Nashville - in the Unbound Collection by Hyatt $197
            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 443 reviews
              4.0 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.

              Renaissance Nashville Hotel $161
              Renaissance Nashville Hotel

              Renaissance Nashville Hotel

              611 Commerce St, Nashville
                 
                4.4
                of 5, from 1,976 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.

                DoubleTree by Hilton Nashville Downtown $135
                DoubleTree by Hilton Nashville Downtown

                DoubleTree by Hilton Nashville Downtown

                315 4th Avenue N, Nashville
                   
                  4.1
                  of 5, from 2,729 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.