Nashville is a city full of musical talent
, but it’s also a city rich in culture. From historical buildings to contemporary works of art
, there’s much to explore at the many different museums. For the most comprehensive experience of the city, check out these 10 museums, which collectively paint a diverse picture of life in Nashville.
The Frist Center for the Visual Arts
Stop by The First Center for the Visual Arts and explore some of the greatest visual artwork from local and regional artists. With exhibitions that showcase new pieces every six to eight weeks, there’s plenty to admire. Children can participate in hands-on art activities at the upper-level Martin ArtQuest Gallery, and there are plenty of events and workshops happening all year. Hungry? The Frist Center Café serves soups, salads, and sandwiches. Take a stroll through the gift shop on the way out for a small memento.
Hours: Mon–Wed, Sat 10am–5:30pm, Thu–Friday 10am–9pm, Sunday 1–5:30pm
The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, 919 Broadway, Nashville, TN, USA, +1 615 244 3340
Frist / (c) Sean Davis / Flickr
For history buffs who have a special interest in the lives of U.S. presidents, The Hermitage is a must-see. The historical mansion once owned by President Andrew Jackson still retains the original wallpaper, furniture, and some of the family’s possessions. The museum gives you a look into the life of Jackson and his family, and you can visit his tomb, which is on the grounds next to his beloved wife’s, Rachel.
Hours: October 16–March 14 9am–4pm, March 15–October 15 8:30am–5pm
The Hermitage, 4580 Rachels Ln, Hermitage, TN, USA, +1 615 889 2941
The Hermitage / (c) Reading Tom / Flickr
Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art
For those interested in the arts and nature, Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art has plenty to offer. With gardens full of lush greenery and foliage and exhibits that showcase the talents of Middle Tennessee State University students, Cheekwood is a visual masterpiece. The museum also has an outdoor exhibition, “Trains!,” that is made entirely out of materials found in nature. Families with children can sign up for the museum’s workshops and programs as well as summer camp.
Hours: Tue–Sun 9am–5pm
Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art, 1200 Forrest Park Dr, Nashville, TN, USA, +1 615 356 8000
Cheekwood / (c) Annette Keeter / Flickr
Located at Centennial Park, Nashville’s Parthenon museum is a replica of the Athenian landmark in Greece. It was originally built for Tennessee’s 1897 Centennial Exposition and serves as a monument to classical architecture. Inside is a collection of 63 paintings by 19th- and 20th-century artists, donated by James M. Cowan, alongside temporary exhibits and shows hosted throughout the year.
Hours: Tue–Sat 9am–4:30pm, Sunday 12:30pm–4:30pm
The Parthenon, 2500 West End Avenue, Nashville, TN, USA, +1 615 862 8431
Nashville Parthenon / (c) Will Powell / Flickr
Tennessee State Museum
Back in 1817, portrait artist Ralph E.W. Earl opened a museum was on the Nashville public square. A young boy who visited the museum in 1823 wrote home that he saw a life-size painting of General Andrew Jackson. Today, that same painting hangs in the Tennessee State Museum, which has three floors and 60,000 square feet of art exhibits. Some of the displays include Tennessee-made furniture, silver, weapons, and quilts. There are also reproductions of an 18th-century print shop, pioneer cabin, and Antebellum parlor.
The Military Museum, a special branch across the street in the War Memorial Building, showcases America’s overseas conflicts, from the Spanish-American War through World War II.
Hours: Tue–Sat 10am–5pm, Sunday 1–5pm
Tennessee State Museum, 505 Deaderick St, Nashville, TN, USA, +1 615 741 2692
Tennessee State Museum / (c) Rain0975 / Flickr
Adventure Science Center
Adventure Science Center
The family-friendly Adventure Science Center is a great place to expand on science knowledge. There are six scientific concept areas throughout the museum: Earth Science, Creativity & Innovation, Sound & Light, Air & Space, Health and Energy. One place children are able to experience a little bit of each of these is the Adventure Tower, a play area designed to ignite children’s curiosity about scientific concepts. There’s also the BodyQuest exhibit, which goes through the various parts and functions of the human body with hands-on displays.
While exploring the museum, enjoy a fulldome show at the Sudekum Planetarium, which has an optical star projector that can produce 6.5 million stars.
Adventure Science Center, 800 Fort Negley Boulevard, Nashville, TN, USA, +1 615 862 5160
Belle Meade Plantation
John Harding established the Belle Meade (“beautiful meadow”) Plantation in 1807, and immediately began stabling horses. Thanks to his son, William Giles Harding, the property quickly evolved from a single log cabin and 250 acres into a 5,400-acre thoroughbred horse farm.
Belle Meade Plantation offers tours led by trained and costumed guides through the plantation’s beautiful Greek-Revival mansion. The property maintains 34 acres of its original buildings, including the mansion and the original homestead. Visitors also have access to many other historic buildings on the plantation grounds, including a dairy, horse stable, carriage house, gardens, and a log cabin. Finish the tour with a free wine tasting at the winery.
Hours: 9am–5pm, tours 9:30am–4pm
Belle Meade Plantation, 110 Leake Ave, Nashville, TN, USA, +1 615 356 0501 ext. 125
Belle Meade Plantation / (c) Daniel Hartwig / Flickr
Lane Motor Museum
Started in 2002 by Jeff Lane, the Lane Motor Museum is home to the largest European collection of cars and motorcycles in the United States. Lane’s donated personal car collection started it all, and the museum is now home to 40,000 square feet of open space. The vehicles on display at the museum are from Europe, Asia, North America, and South America. The museum’s goal is to maintain all vehicles in running order. Some cars are in showroom condition, while others represent typical aging, but efforts are made to restore each vehicle to near-original specifications.
The 150 vehicles in the museum date from the 1920s all the way up to modern day. Cars featured include microcars, amphibious vehicles, military vehicles, alternative fuel vehicles, prototypes, one-of-a-kind vehicles, and motorcycles.
Hours: Mon, Thu–Sun: 10am-5pm
Lane Motor Museum, 702 Murfreesboro Pike, Nashville, TN, USA, +1 615 742 7445
Lane Motor Museum / (c) Glenn Brown / Flickr
Tennessee Central Railway Museum
Enjoy a preserved collection of passenger cars, cabooses, freight cars and locomotives at the Tennessee Central Railway Museum. Visitors are able to ride through Middle Tennessee on a 1950s’ vintage train, typically consisting of air conditioned coaches with refreshments and souvenirs available onboard. Many trains also include deluxe accommodations available at extra cost. Be sure to stop by the Hobby Shop and check out some model trains.
The Tennessee Central Railway Museum has been running since 1989, and its current Middle Tennessee destinations include Lebanon, Watertown, Cookeville, and Monterey.
Hours: Tue–Fri 9am–4pm, Sat 9am–3pm
Tennessee Central Railway Museum, 220 Willow St, Nashville, TN, USA, +1 615 244 9001