Top Museums

Posted by Marketing on Monday, December 25th, 2023 at 11:00am.

Middle Tennessee offers a rich tapestry of cultural experiences, and our museums are no exception; in fact, they are among the best museums in the nation. Whether you are interested in history, art, sports, music, natural history, classic cars, or even architecture, you will find an outstanding destination to cater to your curiosities!

This guide will introduce you to the Best Museums in Middle TN, especially those that are emblematic of the unique and beautiful culture of which we locals are so immensely proud.

The Parthenon
2500 West End Ave | Nashville

Nashville’s Parthenon is a full-scale replica of the original Greek marvel of architecture. During your visit, be sure to enjoy visiting the full-scale statue of the goddess Athena before you enter the art gallery. Once inside, you may view art by American painters from the 1800s and 1900s. 

Check out the website ahead of your visit; if your timing is fortuitous, you may catch a temporary show or exhibit displayed in one of The Parthenon’s many galleries.

Should the weather appeal to you, we encourage you to tour the adjoining park and lake on your visit. Add a picnic lunch, and you will experience one of the most restorative experiences in Nashville.

Frist Art Museum
919 Broadway | Nashville

Located within the trendy Gulch neighborhood, the Frist Art Museum’s gorgeous works begin with the incredible, authentic Art Deco architecture of the building itself. Inside, an ever-rotating series of exhibits guarantees that on each visit one will encounter something entirely new.

While the entire museum is an ideal experience for both children and adults, the Frist’s Martin ArtQuest Gallery provides an interactive experience that particularly appeals to young children. Repeated visits to this exhibit will introduce children to painting, working with clay, animation and other forms of drawing, and printmaking.

Madame Tussauds Nashville
515 Opry Mills Dr | Nashville

Even if you have visited multiple wax museums before, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in Nashville offers a must-see experience for all country music fans. Visit all of your favorite country stars replicated with magic of lifelike wax figurines. As an added bonus, there is an interactive element of posing with characters using props and instruments to further immerse yourself into the illusions you will encounter!

National Museum of African American Music
510 Broadway | Nashville

We all know that African American musicians have created multiple forms of music that are now the backbone of more than 50 genres and expressions of modern American music. Since its recent opening in 2021, this 56,000 square foot museum is one of the newest in Nashville, and one of merely a handful of museums in the world dedicated to disseminating the full history of African American music.

If you enjoy American music of any kind, you must visit this museum and tour all six of its galleries. Tour exhibits feature artifacts, educational displays, art, and memorabilia. 

Johnny Cash Museum
510 Broadway | Nashville

The Man in Black needs no introduction, so it should be no surprise that the museum featuring the largest collection of his memorabilia has been awarded the title of “The #1 Music Museum in the Country,” as well as the rare AAA Gem rating.

Visit to learn more about Cash’s life, his career, and his enormous impact on American culture.

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
222 Rep John Lewis Way South | Nashville

There could be no better place than Nashville for the world’s largest collection of country music memorabilia! The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is a must-see for any country music enthusiast. Throughout your visit, you will learn about the origins of country music, view rare and priceless artifacts, and even see the Hatch Show Print letterpress famous for creating the show posters we all know and love.

If you have an insatiable interest in music history, purchase a combined ticket that will also grant you entrance to the legendary RCA Studio B, Nashville’s oldest recording studio still in operation today.

Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum
401 Gay St | Nashville

The Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum presents visitors with a peek behind the curtain to learn all about the process and techniques behind the creation of some of the most beloved songs from the past century straight through to today. Visit a real vocal booth, view the real instruments used in recording sessions, and learn about engineering, production and songwriting at the museum’s GRAMMY gallery.

If you love music, studio production, or even history alone, you won’t want to skip this incredible museum experience. 

Earth Experience: The Middle Tennessee Museum of Natural History
816 Old Salem Rd | Murfreesboro

Middle Tennessee’s first natural history museum is your opportunity to get up close to archeological finds from all over the world! Touch dinosaur bones, fossils, gems, rocks, minerals, and relics, which are just some of the precious natural materials exhibited here. There are also special exhibits highlighting items discovered right here in Tennessee.

Visit a working paleontology laboratory, view a 38-foot-long T. Rex skeleton, gain insight into our world from prehistoric times up through the present day, learn about the state of our local environment, and leave the museum with a deeper appreciation of the world we see around us every day.

Adventure Science Center
800 Fort Negley Blvd | Nashville

Adventure Science Center was created to introduce children to all things related to science exploration! Bring your family to learn about astronomy, geology, biology, anatomy, and music! Children over four are invited to rock climb and explore the adventure tower, while children of all ages are welcome in the Sudekum Planetarium.

Once your children have worked up an appetite playing and learning, the museum’s Subway makes a great midday stop. Parking is free, but parents with mobility limitations should note that there are limited opportunities for parents to sit, especially on the upper levels.

Tennessee Central Railway Museum
220 Willow St | Nashville

The Central Railway Museum may be small, but it offers a unique opportunity to ride an antique train that has had no updates to make it more similar to the modern trains we have all experienced. We encourage you to arrive at least two hours ahead of your scheduled departure time to give yourself sufficient time to find parking, walk to the museum, explore the museum itself, and secure an advantageous position in the long line to board the train.

Once you are aboard, you will have the opportunity to gift shop, purchase snacks and drinks, then find your seat. Please note that the antique train does not have air conditioning, heating, or particularly comfortable seats, but it is worth it if you have any interest in the reality of train travel in years gone by!

For those with mobility limitations, please note that there are stairs, a long line, and a jostling train that may make maneuvering difficult. 

Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage
4580 Rachel’s Ln | Hermitage

Andrew Jackson’s home, The Hermitage, is a complex visit into the equally complex past. You will learn about our nation’s seventh president, his family, the workings of his cotton plantation, and sadly, the stories of Americans who were enslaved by Jackson himself.

History buffs, architecture enthusiasts, and anyone interested in learning the truth about Antebellum slavery will find this tour to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Tennessee Agriculture Museum
404 Hogan Rd | Nashville

Tennessee’s Agricultural Museum honors the families who have fed our state and nation in past centuries. As a true farm-to-table state, this museum remains relevant to residents of Tennessee today, so we think all who can visit should do so!

The museum displays artifacts used by farming families, exhibits about processes, and historical buildings (including a one-room schoolhouse) open for visitors to explore. We equally recommend exploring the picturesque grounds and walking the gentle trails that branch off from the museum’s main outdoor pathways.

Tennessee State Museum
1000 Rosa L Parks Blvd | Nashville

The Tennessee State Museum stands out even against the many top-tier museums located in Middle Tennessee. This museum is one of the best in the state, and as a bonus, it is entirely free to the public. If you love anything about Tennessee, there’s something for you at the state museum!

From artifacts created by the First Peoples of Tennessee to a costume worn onstage by our patron saint Dolly Parton herself, you will feel more connected to our unique cultural identity than ever before after your visit to the Tennessee State Museum. 

Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame
501 Broadway | Nashville

Tennessee has produced world-class athletes, which are commemorated in the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. College athletes, pro athletes, Olympians, and their coaches are honored with exhibits complete with memorabilia, so this unique museum is the perfect destination for sports fans of all types and ages!

Lane Motor Museum
702 Murfreesboro Pike | Nashville

The Lane Motor Museum displays the largest collection of European vehicles anywhere in the country, including the Helicron, a truly unique vehicle produced in France in 1932. Peruse over 150 vehicles from the last century and this one, including many that can only be viewed at Lane Motor Museum. 

The Takeaway

The museums we’ve mentioned today are our picks for the Best Museums in Middle Tennessee, but which will be yours? Visit these and any of the dozens of amazing museums you’ll find in our region, and please report back! We love hearing your opinions after your first-hand experiences.

Happy touring!

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