Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
- The Best Museums in Nashville
- 1. Adventure Science Center
- 2. Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage
- 3. Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
- 4. Frist Art Museum
- 5. Johnny Cash Museum
- 6. Lane Motor Museum
- 7. Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum
- 8. National Museum of African American Music
- 9. Tennessee Central Railway Museum
- 10. Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame
- 11. Tennessee State Museum
- 12. Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery
- How To Get Free or Reduced Admission to Nashville Museums
- Final Thoughts
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Over the years, Nashville has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. While this is mainly due to the area’s reputation as “Music City,” there are plenty of other things to love about Tennessee’s capital, including its museums. After all, no matter your interests, a gallery or exhibit in Nashville belongs on your travel itinerary.
1. Adventure Science Center
Nashville’s Adventure Science Center aims to get children excited about the sciences in a hands-on way. The facility has over 150 interactive exhibits covering topics like biology, perception, space, and energy.
Visitors of all ages are welcome, though most exhibits are designed to help kids under 15 learn about the museum’s topics. Some of the most beloved displays on the premises are the “Adventure Tower,” the “Sudekum Planetarium,” and the “Infinium Room.”
Some of these exhibits are more immersive than others, so make sure to check that they’re appropriate if traveling with small children or people with sensory concerns.
Additionally, the museum holds public events throughout the year for anyone to participate in. These events range from educational to more focused on entertainment and creativity. Alternatively, the space can be rented for private events, like birthdays or field trips.
Admission is free for children under 2, $14 for kids 2 to 12, and $18 for adults. The museum is open Thursday, Friday, and Monday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The nearest bus stop is 8th Avenue South and Division Street SB.
- Address: 800 Fort Negley Blvd., Nashville, TN 37203
2. Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage
Once owned by the seventh U.S. president, Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage is a historic museum that spreads over 1,000 acres of land. Since Jackson lived on the property for over 40 years and is even buried on the premises, the mansion is still adorned with many of his personal effects.
Much of the museum is dedicated to Jackson’s life and family. However, it also showcases the history of the American South, especially leading up to the Civil War. Local historical societies have made an effort to continuously restore the property, and it’s often considered to be the most well-preserved presidential home in the country.
In 2009, an additional memorial was built on the premises to remember and honor the dozens of enslaved people who spent their entire lives on the mansion’s property throughout its pre-Civil War history. Historical and memorial events are also frequently held on the property.
Admission is free for children under 5, $12 for kids 5 to 12, and $19 for adults. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The nearest bus stop is Lebanon Pike and Belinda Drive SB.
- Address: 4580 Rachels Lane, Hermitage, TN 37076
“With more than 80 percent of the Jackson’s family belongings available for visitors to see, The Hermitage is one of the best-preserved presidential homes in the country. More than 230,000 people visit every year, where they see the Greek Revival-style mansion the Jacksons called home, stroll through a garden fit for a First Lady, explore and learn more in the award-winning exhibit and listen to the all-new audio tour as they explore the grounds, walking trail and outside buildings.”Ann Dee McClane, vice president, marketing and communications, Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage
3. Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
Nashville is known for its music scene, and many country musicians have called the city home. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum aims to honor the top artists in the genre from throughout history.
The museum is split into multiple sections: the actual Hall of Fame rotunda itself, the commemorative museum (full of artifacts and memorabilia from country musicians), the Hatch Show Print exhibit, and the RCA Studio B wing.
The museum houses over 2 million items, ranging from recordings and sheet music to a car owned by Elvis Presley. In addition to the traditional displays of historical musical artifacts, the museum also uses interactive and multimedia exhibits.
Visitors can go on a museum-wide scavenger hunt, try their hands at writing their own songs, or even design their own concert costumes. The facility constantly changes since new musicians are inducted into the museum each year.
Admission is free for children under 5 and local families who live in select neighborhoods, $17.95 for kids 6 to 12, and $27.95 for adults. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The nearest bus stop is Broadway Avenue and 3rd Avenue WB.
- Address: 222 Rep. John Lewis Way S., Nashville, TN 37203
4. Frist Art Museum
First opened in 2001, the Frist Art Museum is an exhibit hall for artists, both past and present. Located in what used to be a post office, the museum’s central location made it a centerpiece of the city’s cultural scene.
Notably, the Frist doesn’t have a permanent collection, and it doesn’t acquire pieces. Instead, the facility focuses on hosting temporary exhibits throughout the year. These exhibitions can last as little as a few days or be on display for months.
While most of these galleries are from contemporary artists, retrospectives and historic pieces are occasionally displayed. The museum also hosts events throughout the year, like guided tours, artist talks, family movie nights, and more.
Some notable previous exhibits displayed at the museum are “Elise Kendrick: Salon Noir,” “Whistler, Sargent, And Steer: Impressionists in London from Tate Collections,” and “Vishnu: Hinduism’s Blue-Skinned Savior.”
Admission is free for members and children under 19, $3 for SNAP, EBT, or WIC recipients, $8 for military personnel, $10 for university students and seniors 65+, $12 per person for groups of 10 or more, and $15 for adults.
The museum is open Friday, Saturday, and Monday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The nearest bus stop is Broadway and 10th Avenue EB.
- Address: 919 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203
“Located in one of Nashville’s most beloved architectural landmarks, the Frist Art Museum presents an exciting schedule of rotating exhibitions, engaging programs, and thoughtful tours in a welcoming and relaxed environment. Our interactive Martin ArtQuest® Gallery offers artmaking projects for all ages and abilities. Festivals, family days, and special events add to the fun.”Seth Feman, PhD, executive director and CEO, Frist Art Museum
5. Johnny Cash Museum
Located in downtown Nashville, the Johnny Cash Museum holds the most extensive collection of items commemorating the personal and professional life of Johnny Cash. In fact, the museum even has a portion of the artist’s old Hendersonville home in its possession.
The original version of the museum opened in 1970 and acted as a sort of living museum since Cash was still alive at the time. However, in 2013, the collection was officially moved. The museum serves as an immersive biography, with exhibits dedicated to Cash’s early life and the years leading up to his career in music in chronological order.
Of course, artifacts from some of his most memorable concerts, songs, and tours, like costumes, lyric drafts, and awards, are also on display. There’s also a wing dedicated entirely to Sun Records, the company that helped him get his foot in the door of the industry.
Admission is free for children under 6, $21.95 for kids 6 to 15, $24.95 for military personnel, seniors, university students, and AAA members, and $25.95 for adults. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. The nearest bus stop is Broadway Avenue and 3rd Avenue WB.
- Address: 119 3rd Ave. S., Nashville, TN 37201
6. Lane Motor Museum
Home to hundreds of cars and dozens of motorcycles, the Lane Motor Museum aims to showcase some of the most famous and unique cars in automotive history.
Though the facility claims to own over 500 cars, only about 150 are on display at a time, with the others kept safe until they’re cycled through the museum. Interestingly, it’s hard to know the exact number of vehicles in the museum collection, as cars are routinely bought and sold.
Virtually all the cars in the museum are European-made, many of which have unusual designs and were made in small quantities. So, very few Americans have ever had a chance to see them. Some pieces in the collection are a 1979 Acoma Super Comtesse, a 1938 Adler Type 10, and a 1964 Centaur Folding Scooter. During its annual fundraiser, the museum even lets visitors drive some of the cars.
Admission is free for members and children under 6, $3 for kids 6 to 17, $8 for seniors 65+, and $12 for adults. The museum is open Thursday to Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The nearest train station is Riverfront.
- Address: 702 Murfreesboro Pike, Nashville, TN 37210
“Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, TN, houses some of the most unique vehicles in the U.S. A predominately European collection, guests will see over 150 unique cars and motorcycles displayed in an open gallery space. Guests are welcome to tour the exhibit galleries at their own pace in this self-guided museum.”Rebecca Evans, marketing director, Lane Motor Museum
7. Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum
Since Nashville is also known as “Music City,” it’s home to the Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum, which honors musical artists from various genres. The museum portion of the facility aims to showcase the evolution and growth of the music industry, starting with the very first recordings. This history is told through artifacts and multimedia displays to create an immersive experience for visitors.
Notably, the museum doesn’t just focus on the talent of famous musicians. It also recognizes the hard work and contributions made by session musicians who often provide the missing pieces of songs and albums without ever going on to become a household name.
Since 2007, the museum has also inducted musicians to its Hall of Fame rotunda based on merit and contributions to the industry. As of the last induction ceremony, over 60 artists are honored in the hall.
Admission is free for members and children under 6, $15 for kids 6 to 17, $26 for healthcare workers, military personnel, members of the police force and fire department, students, teachers, and seniors 65+, and $28 for adults. The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The nearest bus stop is 4th Avenue and MCC Plaza.
- Address: 401 Gay St., Nashville, TN 37219
8. National Museum of African American Music
Since officially opening to the public in its current state in 2019, the National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM) celebrates the contributions African Americans have made to music. Over 50 different genres are represented by over 1,000 artifacts, ranging from clothing to instruments.
Currently, there are 7 galleries in the museum, including a theater space, which looks at musical development and how African-American culture influenced different styles. There are also exhibits dedicated to the careers and achievements of notable musical artists like Whitney Houston and Nat King Cole.
Additionally, the museum looks at how the music industry has changed throughout the years. For example, it houses galleries that consider how major historical events, like World War II, impacted how music was written and created. The museum also hosts events throughout the year which dive deeper into specific genres, time periods, or cultural topics.
Admission is free for children under 6, $22.95 for children 6 to 17 and teachers, $24.95 for military personnel and seniors, and $26.95 for adults. The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday to Monday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. The nearest bus stop is 5th Avenue North and Commerce Street NB.
- Address: 510 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203
9. Tennessee Central Railway Museum
The Tennessee Central Railway Museum (TCRM) aims to preserve Nashville’s railroads and their history. The TCRM can broadly be divided into 2 departments.
The first is the heritage railway, which organizes immersive experiences by taking visitors on excursions aboard select restored trains that can still run. These excursions are often themed and are held several times a month, though they often require reservations.
The other department, instead, focuses on preserving history. This department operates the museum portion of the premises. This section of the museum is where guests can see the historic diesel-electric locomotives and the 30 cars and engines that make up the collection.
This wing also houses the model train room, where an accurate scale model of several of Nashville’s railways can be admired. The museum also hosts clubs for enthusiasts or those wishing to learn more about railroads and trains.
Admission varies. The main general exhibit space is free, though donations are welcome. Train rides and special visits range between $70 and $160. The museum regularly opens on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., but special visits and events can be booked outside of these hours. The nearest bus stop is Hermitage Avenue and Decatur Avenue WB.
- Address: 220 Willow St., Nashville, TN 37210
10. Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame
Opened in 1966, the year of the first induction ceremony, the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame honors athletes who have played for or contributed to major sports teams in some way.
In the over 40 years since then, the museum has grown to include over 500 names from a variety of sports. In fact, the museum was initially located in Knoxville but needed to move twice in part to accommodate its growing number of inductees.
In addition to the athletic ceremony that happens once a year, the museum also honors other people and organizations that have contributed to the sports industry each year with the museum’s “Tennessean of the Year” award.
Some of the names who have a place in the hall are Edgar Allen, a sports journalist; Reggie Johnson, a basketball player; and Teresa Lawrence Philips, a director of the Tennessee State University Athletics Department.
Admission costs vary. Typically, tickets range in cost between $2 and $3. However, the museum’s corporate sponsors often supply free tickets for all visitors. The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The nearest bus stop is 5th Avenue North and Commerce Street NB.
- Address: 501 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203
11. Tennessee State Museum
First opening in its current form in 2018, the Tennessee State Museum aims to preserve and educate visitors about the state’s history.
The museum displays over 2,000 items, from historic artifacts to photos, though many others are housed in the museum’s archives. Currently, the facility is divided into 7 permanent exhibits, though temporary galleries are also occasionally hosted on the premises. There are also virtual exhibits that are only viewable online.
The most famous of the museum’s exhibitions is the “Tennessee Time Tunnel,” which consists of a large and immersive timeline that pinpoints important moments from Tennessee’s earliest history through the modern age. The structure’s displays dedicated to the Civil War are also highly visited.
In addition to the state’s civic and cultural history, its natural history and evolution are also explored in their own dedicated wing.
Admission is free for all visitors. The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The nearest bus stop is 8th Avenue North and Jefferson Street SB.
- Address: 1000 Rosa L. Parks Blvd., Nashville, TN 37208
12. Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery
The Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery began as a small collection of just over 100 paintings donated to the school decades ago. However, in the over 50 years since, Vanderbilt University has acquired thousands of pieces, with over 6,500 works of art now housed on the premises.
This massive collection is meant to create a comprehensive timeline of art history, with important pieces from East Asia, Africa, Oceania, Latin America, and Europe all on display. The museum also houses a collection of photographic work in addition to its traditional fine art items.
Though the main exhibit focuses mostly on historic art periods, the temporary gallery spaces often showcase an even wider variety of work. These exhibitions range in style and often showcase contemporary creators, though retrospectives and deep dives into particular art eras are also hosted. The museum also regularly hosts educational events like lectures and guided tours.
Admission is generally free for all visitors. The museum is open Tuesday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The nearest bus stop is 21st Avenue South and Medical Center Drive SB.
- Address: Hall, Cohen Memorial, 1220 21st Ave. S., Nashville, TN 37203
We’ve indicated with each museum whether or not children, students, or seniors receive free or reduced admission. Several other programs offer similar concessions.
The Museums for All program offers free or reduced admission to museums across the U.S. for those receiving food assistance (SNAP benefits). Participating attractions in the greater Nashville area include the Adventure Science Center, the Cheekwood Estate & Gardens, and the Frist Art Museum.
Bank of America’s Museums on Us program offers cardholders free general admission on the first full weekend of every month to the Frist Art Museum.
Participation is subject to change; please verify participating museums and entry conditions before your visit.
Nashville may be famous for its music scene, but it’s also proven to be one of the country’s best cities when it comes to its museums. Whether you are interested in the local history or hope to get a better appreciation for Tennessee’s artists, this list can help you determine which of Nashville’s exhibits to visit first.
Featured Image Credit: Matthew LeJune via Unsplash
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Nashville have museums?
Nashville has numerous museums that focus on a wide array of topics. Nashville is known for its music scene, so many of the exhibits center around musicians, but there are art, history, and other cultural museums and exhibits located in the city as well.
How many museums are in Nashville?
There are currently over 25 different museums located in Nashville. However, this doesn’t count the exhibits located just outside the city limits. It also doesn’t count the temporary galleries that tend to pop up from time to time.
How many tourists visit Nashville?
In recent years, Nashville has become one of the biggest tourist destinations in the U.S. As of 2022, over 14 million people are reported to have traveled to this part of Tennessee as tourists. This number shows no signs of going down any time soon.
Is Nashville a walkable city for tourists?
Nashville is a relatively small city, so it’s pretty easy to get around. If you stay near Broadway, you’ll likely be able to walk to most places you’ll want to see. However, other neighborhoods in the city are spread out and much less walkable.
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