Summertime means fun in the sun, but it also offers a chance to explore and play “tourist” in your own hometown.
We’ve curated nine great museums, from visual arts to automobiles to Tennessee history and country music legends and more, choose a few and make this summer a museum-filled adventure.
The Frist Center for the Visual Arts
919 Broadway, Nashville
The largest art museum in Nashville, the Frist offers rotating art exhibits, a fun-filled children’s area, a delicious cafe and well curated gift shop.
Unlike any traditional museum you’ve ever visited, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts — once a post office — has become a magnet for Nashville’s rapidly expanding visual arts scene. With an exhibitions schedule that has new art flowing through the magnificent art deco building every 6 to 8 weeks, no matter how often you visit, there is always something new and exciting to see in the spacious galleries
Belle Meade Plantation
5025 Harding Pike, Nashville, TN 37205
Founded in 1807 by John Harding, “Belle Meade” translates to mean beautiful meadow in old English and French. The property began with just a single log cabin and 250 acres. The estate quickly grew to become a 5,400 acre thoroughbred horse farm complete with a Greek Revival Mansion, deer park, train station and rock quarry which supported five generations of owners, their servants and enslaved workers.
Today Belle Meade Plantation retains 34 acres of its original property and several outbuildings including the Mansion and original homestead. Today’s site functions as an educational resource dedicated to the preservation of Tennessee’s Victorian architecture, history and equestrian history. Visitors can enjoy tours, educational outreach programs, shopping, dining, wine tastings, weddings and other happenings knowing that their patronage supports the educational mission of Belle Meade Plantation.
Tennessee State Museum
505 Deadrick Street, Nashville
Learn about the state you call home at this amazing museum. The complete history if the state is traced from the original Native American inhabitants through the first European settlers and on through the Civil War and Antebellum period, culminating with displays of contemporary art and artifacts. Highlights include a collection of over 200 quilts, dating from 1808 to the present, a collection of over 500 flags and banners, and prehistoric artifacts from around the state.
Lane Motor Museum
702 Murfreesboro Pike, Nashville
For the serious automobile connoisseur to the average car lover, this museum is a delight. Lane Motor Museum is one of the few museums in the U.S. to specialize in European cars. Some cars are in showroom condition, while others represent typical aging. Efforts are made to restore each vehicle to near-original specifications.
The museum has been developed in a well-known Nashville landmark, the former Sunbeam Bakery at 702 Murfreesboro Pike. Home to the bread company beginning in 1951, the 132,000 square-foot facility was the largest and most modern bakery in the area at the time of its opening. The bakery building, outfitted for the museum’s needs but left with many of its original characteristics, has a high ceiling, natural light, and hand-crafted brick and maple wood flooring. The architectural style complements the age of the cars represented. The main floor has approximately 40,000 square feet of open space, ideal for displaying the collection.
The Johnny Cash Museum
119 3rd Ave South, Nashville
One of the newest museums in Nashville, this venue pays homage to The Man in Black. The Johnny Cash Museum features the world’s largest collection of Johnny Cash artifacts and memorabilia in the world. From his early days to the pinnacle of his success, you’ll follow the country music legend’s life and history.
The museum recently received the coveted AAA GEM rating; the highest bestowed on an attraction, only six attractions in Nashville to have this distinction.
The Country Music Hall of Fame
222 5th Avenue South, Nashville
With a mission to collect, preserve, and interpret the evolving history and traditions of country music through exhibits, publications, and educational programs, this museum offers rotating exhibits like the current Song of the South collection, tracing the rise of Country Music Hall of Fame group Alabama.
In the museum’s core exhibition, Sing Me Back Home: A Journey Through Country Music, visitors are immersed in the history and sounds of country music, its origins and traditions, and the stories and voices of many of its honored architects. The story is revealed through artifacts, photographs, and text panels, with a rich overlay of recorded sound, vintage video, and interactive touchscreens.
2500 West End Ave., Nashville
The Parthenon is a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens. It was built in 1897 as part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition.
Today, the museum houses a permanent collection including notable works from 19th- and 20th-century American artists, including Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Edwin Church and Thomas Moran, but also contemporary pieces crafted by up-and-coming Nashville artists. Athenian sculptures created from direct casts of originals that once adorned the ancient Greek ruins are also on display.
Just as in the original Parthenon in Greece, Alan LeQuire’s 1990 re-creation of the Athena Parthenos statue is the focus of the Nashville Parthenon.
1200 Forrest Park Drive, Nashville
Cheekwood is a 55-acre botanical garden and art museum located on the historic Cheek estate. Originally built as the home of Leslie and Mabel Cheek in 1929, Cheekwood is one of the finest examples of an American Country Place Era estate.
While the beautiful gardens attract thousands of visitors each year, Cheekwood also houses The Cheekwood Permanent Collection of Fine Art which includes paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, and sculpture, with an emphasis on American art produced between 1910 and 1971.
They also offer rotating exhibits. One of the most eagerly awaited, Dressing Downton: Changing Fashion for Changing Times, featuring costumes from the PBS Masterpiece’s Downton Abbey from June 17, 2017 through September 10, 2017.
1345 Eastern Flank Circle, Franklin
Carnton Plantation offers a glimpse into the Civil War and how it impacted Middle Tennessee.
The red brick Federal Style plantation house was built in 1826 by Randal McGavock. His son, John, inherited the house in 1843. The McGavock family was directly impacted by the Battle of Franklin and found their home used as a field hospital for wounded Confederate soldiers. Carnton became the largest hospital in the area following the battle. After the war John and his wife, Carrie, set aside nearly two acres of their property so that the remains of Southern dead who died in the battle might be properly buried. The National Historic Landmark has been open to the public since the late 1970s and allows visitors to better understand the humanity which often appears in the midst of war.