Founded in 1916, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is the oldest and largest art museum in Tennessee. Both indoor and outdoor exhibits are on display at the museum, which houses 29 galleries and over 7,000 works of art. There’s a research library, art classrooms, a print study room and an auditorium. The museum also features Inside Art, which is Tennessee’s only family gallery dedicated to visual literacy.
Outside the museum, visitors will find a bronze fountain and three marble sculptures of the seasons, as well as a bronze birdbath and lions along the west staircase. Some of these works were commissioned by the museum and others were gifted or donated. Speaking of donations, admission to the museum on Wednesdays is by donation only: guests decide what to pay.
Located on 3.2 acres overlooking the Mississippi River, the National Ornamental Metal Museum opened in 1979. It is the only institution in the United States devoted exclusively to the advancement of the art and craft of fine metalwork. For almost 30 years, it was led by James Wallace, who was a blacksmith, artist, curator, plumber and a mechanic. Much of the success of the museum can be attributed to Wallace’s dedication. In 2007, he retired from the museum to focus on his own projects.
The museum has a collection of over 3,000 metal objects, some dating back to the Renaissance. There is also a library and sculpture garden on the property, in addition to a blacksmith shop where classes and demonstrations take place throughout the year.
Known as ‘the place where play is learning’, the Children’s Museum of Memphis is located in the former National Guard Armory that existed from the early 1940s. It offers hands-on exhibits and programs that create memorable learning experiences for children. Inside, there is an area for toddlers, an art studio, a firehouse and an indoor campground. Outside exhibits include the H2Oh! Splash Park and Bankshot Basketball.
Catering for children from the ages of 1 to 12, the museum is a place where kids can have fun learning, and where parents can learn how to have fun.
After the White House, Graceland is the second most-visited house in the United States. The former home of Elvis Presley, Graceland mansion offers an interactive iPad tour hosted by actor John Stamos. The tour includes the living room, kitchen, TV room, pool room and the famous Jungle Room. The raquetball building was recently restored to its 1977 condition, and visitors can see Elvis’s keys to Graceland in the newly updated trophy building.
Outside the mansion is the Meditation Garden, where Elvis and his family are buried. It was designed and built by architect Bernard Grenadier, and was used by Elvis when he was alive as a space to reflect on difficult situations.
Memphis is the largest spot-cotton market in the world, and the Cotton Row district that surrounds The Cotton Museum was once the center of the worldwide cotton trade. The museum, which opened in 2006, offers a self-guided tour of Cotton Row, which highlights the landmarks and thriving cotton industry that once existed in Memphis. The main exhibit of the museum is located on the historic trade floor of the Memphis Cotton Exchange, where cotton traders once stood. It tells the story of ‘King Cotton’ and features original films, oral histories and artifacts.
The Exploration Hall wing on the museum takes visitors through the history of cotton production using hands-on exhibits that engage them with games and activities. Visitors will learn how technology in the cotton industry has changed since the 1940s, and how it has altered life in the American south.