What are the best Nashville museums?

Answers from Our Experts (4)

Nashville’s best museums include the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, which opened in 2001 and hosts exhibits of local, national and international art, helping to boost Nashville’s burgeoning visual art scene. Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art is a 55-acre botanical garden on the historic Cheek estate and is also home to an art museum housed in the estate’s main house. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is the place to go for tracing the story of country music through the decades.

The Tennessee State Museum features permanent and traveling exhibits ranging from art and history to textiles, crafts and culture. Interpretive history exhibits at the Tennessee State Museum begin 15,000 years ago with prehistoric peoples and continue through the early 1900s. Civil War buffs will find plenty of important sites around Nashville and the wider Middle Tennessee area, such as the Travellers Rest Plantation & Museum.

One of Nashville’s more unusual museums is the Lane Motor Museum, specializing in European cars. As a working museum, Lane Motor Museum keeps all of it’s unusual vehicles — they have amphibious cars and one that can fold in half — in running order.

There are great art galleries on 5th Avenue. They’re getting better all the time. I like the Tinney Contemporary gallery; Susan Tinney will really take risks, she might have two massive pieces in that space, but it will make a really strong statement. It makes me feel like I’m in a much larger metropolitan city when I’m in there.

The Country Music Hall of Fame. The Greenbrier Historical Society.

Claire Gibson

Nashville has plenty to offer by way of history, art, science, and, you guessed it, music! So while you're staying near the Cumberland River, take a few hours to check out some of our favorite museums:

  1. The Frist Center - Whether you're interested in the newest exhibit, taking a class, or grabbing a bite to eat at the popular Frist Cafe, this downtown attraction has something to offer every art appreciator, young and old. Check the website for updated events and exhibits. 
  2. The Hermitage - Explore the former (and preserved) glory of Andrew Jackson's homestead. Over 1,000 acres of pristine Tennessee farmland, full of the history of our nation's fourth president. 
  3. Cheekwood Botanical Garden - Founded in the late 1800s by the Cheek family, who are also well known for a certain special coffee blend better known as Maxwell House, Cheekwood Botanical Garden offers the sounds and sights of nature, plus plenty of history and Tennessee lore, too. 
  4. Country Music Hall of Fame - Your trip to Nashville may not feel complete without a little learning in the field of music. "Platinum" tickets to the hall of fame include a stop at the historic RCA Studio B, where greats like Elvis Presley, Chet Atkins and the Everly Brothers laid down tracks. 
  5. Bellemeade Plantation - You may be surprised to know that thoroughbred horses haven't always been the boon of our northern neighbor, Kentucky. No, John Harding and his family made a living at Bellmeade Plantation racing and breeding thoroughbreds long before Kentucky came into the horse-breeding picture. But public policy (namely Prohibition) led the whiskey distilling and horse racing culture away from Tennessee, leaving Bellemeade Plantation in a state of dissaray. See the home and grounds restored to their former glory, and enjoy a wine tasting at the end of the tour. 
Happy learning!

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