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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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Best Lodging Options Near Tennessee State Museum

See all 2,458 Properties near Tennessee State Museum
Stay Alfred at 505 $138
Stay Alfred at 505

Stay Alfred at 505

505 Church Street, Nashville, TN
     
    4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in Downtown Nashville, this apartment building is steps from Nashville Public Library, Ryman Auditorium, and Nashville Convention Center. Bridgestone Arena and Tennessee State Capitol are also within 10 minutes. Nashville Riverfront Station is 10 minutes by foot.

    Knights Inn Nashville $63
    Knights Inn Nashville

    Knights Inn Nashville

    99 Spring St, Nashville, TN
       
      1.5 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in Downtown Nashville, this motel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Farmer's Market, Nissan Stadium, and Nashville Municipal Auditorium. Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park and Nashville Broadway are also within 1 mi (2 km). Nashville Riverfront Station is 26 minutes by foot.

      Holiday Inn Express Nashville Downtown Conf Ctr $104
      Holiday Inn Express Nashville Downtown Conf Ctr

      Holiday Inn Express Nashville Downtown Conf Ctr

      920 Broadway, Nashville, TN
         
        3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Downtown Nashville, this hotel is steps from Frist Center for Visual Arts and Nashville Broadway. Bridgestone Arena and Nashville Convention Center are also within 10 minutes. Nashville Riverfront Station is 12 minutes by foot.

        Dream Nashville $200
        Dream Nashville

        Dream Nashville

        210 4th Avenue North, Nashville, TN
           
          4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Downtown Nashville, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Nashville Broadway, Ryman Auditorium, and Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Nashville Convention Center and Nashville Municipal Auditorium are also within 10 minutes. Nashville Riverfront Station is 8 minutes by foot.

          Omni Nashville Hotel $265
          Omni Nashville Hotel

          Omni Nashville Hotel

          250 5th Ave S, Nashville, TN
             
            4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

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

            Mint House at the Reserve $163
            Mint House at the Reserve

            Mint House at the Reserve

            301 Rosa L Parks Ave, Nashville, TN
               
              4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in Downtown Nashville, this apartment building is within a 5-minute walk of War Memorial Auditorium, Tennessee State Capitol, and Nashville Broadway. Nashville Convention Center and Ryman Auditorium are also within 10 minutes. Nashville Riverfront Station is 17 minutes by foot.

              Renaissance Nashville Hotel $209
              Renaissance Nashville Hotel

              Renaissance Nashville Hotel

              611 Commerce St, Nashville, TN
                 
                4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in Downtown Nashville, this hotel is steps from Nashville Convention Center, Ryman Auditorium, and Bridgestone Arena. Nashville Broadway and Schermerhorn Symphony Center are also within 5 minutes. Nashville Riverfront Station is 10 minutes by foot.

                Comfort Inn Downtown Nashville-Vanderbilt $119
                Comfort Inn Downtown Nashville-Vanderbilt

                Comfort Inn Downtown Nashville-Vanderbilt

                1501 Demonbreun St, Nashville, TN
                   
                  3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Downtown Nashville, this hotel is steps from Hank Williams Jr. Museum and Nashville Broadway. Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and Music City Center are also within 1 mi (2 km). Nashville Riverfront Station is 22 minutes by foot.