No matter what kind of Nashville museums you want to visit, you have a lot of options. Music City has tons of museums, including ones that celebrate the city’s music history, beautiful art museums, and even a museum dedicated to unique cars.
Visiting museums is definitely one of the best things to do in Nashville, and will make your trip so much richer. As a Nashville local, I’ve put together this guide to help you find the best museums in Nashville. Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
- 15 Best Museums in Nashville
- Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
- Frist Art Museum
- Tennessee State Museum
- Johnny Cash Museum
- Tennessee State Capitol
- National Museum of African American Music
- Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum
- The Hermitage
- 21c Museum Hotel Nashville
- Patsy Cline Museum
- Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame
- Glen Campbell Museum
- Lane Motor Museum
- Tennessee Agriculture Museum
- FAQs about Nashville Museums
Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!
15 Best Museums in Nashville
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
Explore the largest collection of country music memorabilia in the world
You can’t visit Music City without seeing the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
The museum guides visitors through country music history from its roots and early influences all the way to the diverse artists of the genre today. You’ll see everything from priceless instruments to original handwritten lyrics. And, of course, lots of rhinestones.
Most visitors just see the main museum. But, the Country Music Hall of Fame also runs the Hatch Show Print letterpress that makes the iconic show posters. I recommend getting a combo ticket to see the Country Music Hall of Fame and the historic RCA Studio B. The studio was opened in 1957 and is the oldest surviving Nashville recording studio.
Frist Art Museum
Enjoy a variety of art galleries in this stunning Art Deco building
Housed in an Art Deco building from the 1930s, the Frist Art Museum is a wonderful choice for art lovers as well as families with children.
The Frist Art Museum is free for guests 18 and younger and does not have a permanent collection. Instead, they show several different traveling exhibits. This means that there’s always something new to see no matter how many times you’ve been before.
In particular, both children and adults will love the Martin ArtQuest Gallery. This unique gallery allows guests to interact with different artistic mediums.
The exhibitions in this gallery change several times a year and can include activities like drawing, animation, printmaking, and painting. It’s one of the coolest things to do in Nashville with kids.
Tennessee State Museum
Learn about the people and events who have shaped the state of Tennessee
The Tennessee State Museum is one of the best museums in Nashville, and it also happens to be free. Whether you’re trying to do Nashville on a budget or not, take the time to walk through the exhibits showcasing Tennessee’s history.
The collection spans thousands of years of history. You can see artifacts created by the First Peoples of Tennessee, a 13-star flag from the Revolutionary War, and even one of Dolly Parton’s stage costumes.
There’s something for everyone here no matter what you’re interested in. I visit every few months because the traveling exhibits at the museum are always great too!
Johnny Cash Museum
Follow the life and learn the impact of one of country music’s biggest stars
If you’re a music fan, then the Johnny Cash Museum should be one of your first stops while in Music City. The museum has the largest collection of Johnny Cash memorabilia in the world, and is an extraordinary insight into the musician’s career as well as his role in American pop culture.
Tennessee State Capitol
Explore one of the oldest working state capitols
The Tennessee State Capitol was built in 1859. It’s one of the oldest working state capitols in the US, and visitors are able to tour the building on weekdays. There are guided tours available each hour, or you can take a self-guided tour.
Besides being able to tour portions of the inside of the building, you can also explore the grounds and see the tombs of President and Mrs. James K. Polk.
👉 Pro Tip: The Capitol is one of the stops on the hop on hop off trolley tour. If you have a limited amount of time in Nashville, this is a great way to see a lot of Nashville’s attractions in just a day or two.
National Museum of African American Music
Learn how notable African American musicians have shaped American music culture
Opened in 2021, the National Museum of African American Music is 56,000 square feet and one of downtown Nashville’s newest museums. This museum is the only one of its magnitude dedicated to preserving the influence African Americans have had on more than 50 genres and styles of music.
Music lovers shouldn’t miss the chance to explore the museum’s 6 galleries. Inside you’ll find artifacts and state-of-the-art exhibitions that are informational and fascinating.
Marvel at this full-scale replica of the Greek Parthenon located in Nashville
Located in Centennial Park, Nashville’s full-scale replica of the Greek Parthenon was originally built in 1897 for Tennessee’s Centennial Exposition. Inside this striking Nashville landmark, you’ll find a full-scale statue of Athena and an art gallery. The gallery’s collection consists of 19th and 20th-century paintings by American artists. Temporary shows and exhibits also take place in the Parthenon’s additional galleries.
When the weather is nice, walking around the lake in Centennial Park and then exploring the Parthenon is one of the best ways to spend an afternoon.
Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum
Get a behind-the-scenes look at how iconic music is created
If you’ve ever wanted a behind-the-scenes look at how some of the greatest music hits were created, the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum is the place to visit. The downtown museum recognizes the musicians who played on iconic recordings of beloved songs.
You’ll be able to see the actual instruments that were used during studio recordings and see the inside of a studio vocal booth.
The museum’s newest exhibit is the GRAMMY Museum Gallery. Here, you can learn about all aspects of the recording process including songwriting, engineering, and producing.
This museum should be on your Nashville itinerary for anyone interested in the music industry.
Visit the home of one of America’s presidents
Visitors interested in American history can take a quick day trip from Nashville to see the home of the 7th president Andrew Jackson.
Located just 10 miles south of downtown, the Hermitage mansion will teach you about what everyday life was like for the Jackson family. You can also tour the grounds of the estate.
The property was originally a cotton plantation. While touring the estate, you’ll learn about Andrew Jackson. However, the Hermitage has made a point of making sure that the stories of those who were enslaved on the property are told as well.
21c Museum Hotel Nashville
Enjoy art for free at this unique property
Located in the historic Gray & Dudley building, the 21c Museum Hotel is a contemporary art museum, a hotel, and a restaurant. But you don’t have to be a guest at the hotel to view the art.
Patsy Cline Museum
Learn about one of the most recognized country music artists
Country music fans will appreciate the museum dedicated to one of the biggest names in the music genre. The Patsy Cline Museum is located above the Johnny Cash Museum.
Inside you’ll find personal belongings and artifacts related to the legendary artist. The collection is small because Cline had such a short career, but the museum does a good job of showing just how much she accomplished in that time.
Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame
Discover the Olympians, professional athletes, and college athletes from Tennessee
Sports fans of all kinds will enjoy visiting the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Located in Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville, this small museum honors the coaches, athletes, and other involved parties who have contributed to the world of sports in Tennessee.
The newest exhibit opened in the museum honors Pat Summit, one of the most successful women’s college basketball coaches of all time.
Glen Campbell Museum
Visit the museum dedicated to the “Rhinestone Cowboy”
Located on the corner of Broadway and 2nd Avenue, country music fans will enjoy this museum dedicated to the legendary musician. Inside the museum, you’ll learn more about Campbell’s 6-decade musical career.
The property is also home to the Rhinestone Stage where a variety of public and private events are held.
Lane Motor Museum
See one-of-a-kind European cars
Head to the Lane Motor Museum to see the largest collection of European vehicles on display in the United States.
Car enthusiasts will enjoy the 150 different vehicles dating from the early 1900s to today. You’ll even get to see a Helicron, a one-of-a-kind vehicle with a propeller made in France in 1932.
Tennessee Agriculture Museum
Step back in time to see how farming families lived in previous centuries
If you’re looking for free things to do in Nashville, then check out the Tennessee Agriculture Museum. The museum has objects that would have been used frequently by farming families in the 19th and 20th centuries. There are also several historical buildings, like a one-room schoolhouse, on the property.
The grounds here are beautiful, and the setting is peaceful. The museum is located in Brentwood, so it’s a short drive from downtown. It’s worth visiting just to enjoy the scenery and walk the trails.
FAQs about Nashville Museums
What is the number one thing to do in Nashville?
One of the best things to do in Nashville visits the Grand Ole Opry House. The Grand Ole Opry is the longest-running broadcast in the world and helped spread country music across the country.
What museums are free in Nashville?
What museums does Nashville have?
Is the Parthenon Free Nashville?
Visiting Centennial Park and viewing the exterior of Nashville’s Parthenon is free. However, there is a fee to enter the Parthenon to see the Athena statue and the art galleries inside.
Thanks for reading my article about the best Nashville museums. Still planning your trip to Nashville? Check out our Nashville packing list to make sure you’ve got everything you need to visit Music City.
Help us help you travel better!
Your feedback really helps ...
What did you like about this post? Or how can we improve it to help you travel better?