8 Museums in Memphis That Will Awe And Inspire You

Source: Yelp

Memphis is every music lover’s dream. Known as the Home of the Blues and the Birthplace of Rock’n’Roll, Memphis is one of the best spots in the country for live music and clubbing. But did you know that it is also home to dozens of fascinating museums? Memphis’ museums explore a wide range of areas. Whether you want to dive deeper into the city’s historic music scene or look at some fantastic artwork, you need to see some of these top museums in Memphis. 

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1. Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum

Learn the complete history of Memphis’ vibrant music scene at this famous museum

May be an image of 1 person, guitar, indoor and text that says 'EXIT and B'
Travel all the way back to the ‘30s at this legendary museum. Image courtesy of Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum.

191 Beale St, Suite 100 | Downtown | memphisrocknsoul.org

If you want to learn about the history of Memphis and its special connection to music, you need to visit the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum. You’ll learn about everything from the sharecroppers of the 1930s to the city’s peak of music in the ‘70s at this historic site. The museum is currently open Wednesday through Sunday. Discounts for AAA, AARP, military, and Smithsonian members are also available. 

Rural culture, soul music, social revolutions, and more are explored in the museum’s various exhibits. During your visit, make sure you visit the Bravo Gallery to gain a full appreciation of the cultural change the city has experienced. Do you like to move at your own pace? Take the digital audio tour. In addition to its main walkthrough guide, the audio tour offers three audio-visual programs and over 100 songs. A small gift shop is available on-site for anyone who wants to take a piece of the museum home. 

“Excellent memorabilia. They have everything from BB King's guitar to Elvis's jumpsuit and everything in between. It's smaller than I thought, about 1 1/2 hours but with good detail. The audio tour is great with snippets of music and interviews.” - Yelp Review

Purchase a GiftYa card for Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum.

2. National Civil Rights Museum

Famous complex of museums and buildings that explore the history of the Civil Rights Movement

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Interactive exhibits, speakers, and special events are regularly held at this historic site. Image courtesy of National Civil Rights Museum.

450 Mulberry St | Downtown | civilrightsmuseum.org 

If you are visiting Memphis, the National Civil Rights Museum should be at the top of your to-do list. Located inside the former Lorraine Motel, the Civil Rights Museum shows visitors a comprehensive and interactive look into the American Civil Rights Movement. The motel, which was the site of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, is considered to be one of the nation’s most important cultural sites. It has been featured on a number of networks and publications including the History Channel, CNN, and USA Today. 

At the museum, you’ll find a wide range of interactive exhibits and collections. Over 260 artifacts and 40 films are housed in the museum and used to tell the full history of the Civil Rights Movement. The museum also hosts guest speakers and special events on a regular basis to further enhance its educational offerings. Regular adult tickets are $18, however, museum members and active U.S. military can get in for free. 

“The chills we got while we were here. Just walking up. So much to take in but the power of the location. Now a beautiful National Civil Rights Museum where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once stayed at and stood. An incredible museum you absolutely must visit while in Memphis. May MLK truly Rest In Peace.” - Yelp Review

Purchase a GiftYa card for the National Civil Rights Museum.

3. The Children’s Museum of Memphis

Your children will love the hands-on exhibits and interactive programs at this popular museum

2525 Central Ave | Memphis | cmom.com

Nurturing your little one’s curiosity and sense of wonder is vital for their development. What better way to enhance their education and cultivate their imagination than by taking them to the Children’s Museum of Memphis? The classroom isn’t the only place where your child will learn crucial life skills. 

The Children’s Museum of Memphis encourages learning and play through hands-on interactive exhibits. Does your little one love arts and crafts? Take them to the Doodlebug Studio! Your child will love working on their new painting or sculpture. The Lego Area is another great area where your child can practice their creative skills. More active exhibits like the Rock Climbing Center and Bankshot™ Basketball courts are also popular among kids. Whatever your kids’ interests are, they will quickly find an exhibit they love at the Children’s Museum. 

“My children are now four years old and two years old and they absolutely love coming here! From an educator's point of view, there are several opportunities in every area for Children to use math, literary, social-emotional and more skills.” - Yelp Review

Purchase a GiftYa card for The Children’s Museum of Memphis.

4. Graceland

Visit the stunning mansion that Elvis Presley — The King — called home 

Take a picture with The King before exploring the museum. Image courtesy of Yelp.

3717 Elvis Presley Blvd | Whitehaven | graceland.com

Whether you are a huge fan of The King or you just want to get the most out of your visit to Memphis, you need to visit Elvis’s famous home — Graceland Mansion. Now that it has re-opened, guests can take an interactive iPad tour of the mansion that Elvis Presley called home for so many years. This self-guided tour is great for people who like to go at their own pace. 

During the tour, you’ll visit the famous Jungle Room, walk through the Meditation Garden, explore his private airplane, learn fun stories about Elvis, and more! A variety of interactive exhibits that dive into Elvis’s full history are also available on-site. Make sure you visit some of them so you can enjoy the whole experience!

“Elvis' home and grounds tour was amazing. I was very young when Elvis passed but I've always been a big fan and Graceland is absolutely amazing. To walk in his footsteps and see the grounds, memorial, planes, jumpsuits, hit records, cars, horses, and home videos of him were nothing short of amazing.” - Yelp Review

5. Stax Museum of American Soul Music

 Explore the history of soul music at the former home of Stax Records

The Stax Museum of American Soul Music is dedicated to preserving the legacy of Stax Records. Image courtesy of Yelp.

926 E Mclemore Ave | Southside | staxmuseum.com

Located inside the old Stax Records studio, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music pays tribute to the legendary artists who sang and recorded in its storied rooms. Years of history are stored in this charming and unique museum. No other museum in the country celebrates Stax Records like this one. 

Your tour starts inside a modest country church — considered by many to be the birthplace of soul music. This circa-1906 Mississippi Delta Church is just a small introduction to the rich origins of the genre in Southern gospel music. From there, you’ll walk through a replica of a converted movie theater, hall of records, and even a dance floor! Most museums have a strict ban on dancing. But Stax Museum offers a rare exception! 

“Enjoyable experience, great displays, and of course excellent music. The Stax Museum kicks you off with a sit-down movie setting the stage for what is to come. The rest of the museum is at your own pace, 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on your speed and how much you like read.” - Yelp Review

Purchase a GiftYa card for the Stax Museum of American Soul Music.

6. Museum of Science & History

Take a stroll through Memphis’ amazing natural and cultural history at this expansive museum

3050 Central Ave | Chickasaw Gardens | memphismuseums.org

The Museum of Science & History houses hundreds of fascinating exhibits throughout its expansive campus. The Pink Palace Mansion, Giant Screen Theater, AutoZone Dome Planetarium, Lichterman Nature Center, and Mallory-Neely and Magevney Houses are the big must-see spots of the museum. 

The museum’s famous exhibits span a wide range of subjects, from archaeology to chemistry to U.S. history. As a result, the artifacts and artwork you see on display drastically vary from exhibit to exhibit. One moment, you’ll be looking at the skeleton of a prehistoric creature. The next, you might find yourself examining the grocery store items at the Pink Palace Mansion! 

If you consider yourself to be a big animal lover, you’ll want to add the Lichterman Nature Center to your list! This “live museum” is home to a wide variety of fascinating land animals and sea creatures. 

“This is the largest museum we've ever visited. This will take at least a couple of days for us to see everything and visit the 3D theatre. We all had a great time and learned quite a bit.” - Yelp Review

7. Belz Museum of Asian & Judaic Art

Small museum that is home to an abundance of fine art and other wonderful treasures

119 S Main St | Downtown | belzmuseum.org

Most people don’t associate Asian or Judaic art with the city of Memphis. But you can actually find over 1,400 Asian and Judaic art pieces at the Belz Museum! The collection originally belonged to entrepreneur Jack Belz, who eventually donated them to the museum.  

Inside, you’ll find five permanent galleries. Three of the galleries feature Asian art. One Judaic room and a Holocaust Memorial Gallery are also inside the museum. Special exhibits are also brought in on a semi-annual basis. Want to take a piece of the museum home with you? Don’t forget to stop by the gift shop before leaving! 

“It was AMAZING! The staff was incredible to work with when it came to planning. The tour was informative and interesting. The museum staff did a great job answering all of the students' questions. They even brought lunch in for the kids so we didn't have to worry about anything.” - Yelp Review

8. Metal Museum

Visit the only institution in the United States that is dedicated to preserving the art of fine metalwork

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The Metal Museum is probably one of the most unique spots on the list. Image courtesy of Metal Museum.

374 Metal Museum Dr | Memphis | metalmuseum.org

The Metal Museum is probably one of the most unique museums on this list. All of its exhibitions and studio space are dedicated to preserving the art of fine metalwork. There is an inside and outside component of the museum. Inside, you’ll find a wide array of metal artworks taking all kinds of different forms. The outside land features an extensive sculpture garden. Original sculptures created by artists from around the world are situated across the garden’s three acres. 

As passionate advocates for emerging artists, the Metal Museum also hosts a Tributaries exhibition. This exhibition features works from mid-career metal artists to help promote their work to the community. Make sure you check out this section during your visit!

“I love metal sculptures, so this was a fun place to visit. It consists of two buildings, with art displayed in both buildings. There was a very cool display of knives, as well as some hands-on exhibits, and motion-activated small metal sculptures.” - Yelp Review

Memphis is home to dozens of fascinating and informative museums. Whether you are just visiting the city or you’ve lived here for years, you need to visit some of these amazing sites. Which ones do you plan to visit next? Let us know in the comment section below!

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