It is no secret that one of my most favorites cities is Nashville, Tennessee – home to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. I’m a huge music fan and I love to visit the places that helped shape country music and explore its history and stories.
My old, college roommate and I made a whirlwind trip to Music City a few weeks ago for 48 hours of fun in Downtown Nashville and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum while we were in town.
What to Expect at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
From the nineteenth century to today’s artists – the artifacts and exhibits truly tell the story of country music. With over two million artifacts, the museum’s permanent collection is updated regularly so there’s always something new to see. The museum has numerous rotating exhibits throughout the year with one large, limited-time exhibit that updates every two years.
So, yes, some things stay the same (like Elvis’ gold Cadillac – SO cool!), but there are tons of fantastic things that make every visit a new experience. I really loved seeing Keith Whitley’s motorcycle and it was really special to see Bill Monroe’s mandolin on display.
While there are a variety of ticket levels for the museum (self-guided, audio and combination – more on that in a bit), we took the self-guided tour and set our own pace for touring the museum. We are both big fans of bluegrass music and the older generation of country music, so we spent a great deal of time admiring the exhibits.
During our visit, we had the opportunity to see the Loretta Lynn: Blue Kentucky Girl exhibit, the Tim & Faith: Mississippi Woman, Louisiana Man exhibit, an exhibit featuring Shania Twain (and her amazing wardrobe!) and the larger exhibit Dylan, Cash and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City.
So many stories and fascinating artifacts on display and it while I thought I knew a lot about these artists, I definitely learned more during my time at the museum. From Loretta’s incredible dresses, awards and even the sewing machine from which she made clothes to the stories of how Tim McGraw and Faith Hill met and personal photos from their tour – I learned about the people, in addition to their music.
And what struck me on this particular visit was that it wasn’t just a museum about music and the music makers — but it was also a museum of fashion and history. The dresses and outfits on display were just incredible. From ballgowns to costumes from the early 1950s and more — it was fascinating to see how clothing has evolved over the years.
Interactive Fun for All Ages
With three floors filled with artifacts, videos and some interactive displays, I was particularly excited to see many activities available for kids to get involved with exploring the museum. Each exhibit features activity guides and a museum scavenger hunt – both great ways to learn more about the musicians and artifacts. In fact, I saw a lot of adults taking part in the fun — searching and really studying the displays to complete the scavenger hunt.
Also fun for kids, be sure to check out the museum’s Taylor Swift Education Center – they host kid-friendly events on the weekends and throughout the summertime. If there aren’t activities during your visit, take a walk through the center to admire the local artwork on display.
The Hall of Fame Rotunda
The final room you’ll visit during your time at the museum is probably the most special one of all – the Hall of Fame rotunda. The first Hall of Fame inductees were announced in 1961 and each year three more deserving people are added to the esteemed group.
The rotunda itself features a plaque for each inductee and the room is round so that every Hall of Fame member has a place of equal importance. The plaques are placed randomly around the room, with the newest inductees near the center of the room for their particular year of induction.
I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe those plaques talk to one another at night after the lights go down. Such history and so many stories within those names on the wall. It is a special place and one of great significance. Check out the Hall of Fame Inductees page for information on the selection process.
Things to Know For Your Visit
- The museum offers self-guided tours, an audio tour and you can also purchase combination tickets to tour either the Hatch Show Print facilities and tours depart throughout the day to tour Historic Studio B.
- Tickets are good for the entire day, you can come and go as you please! (And you can buy tickets online!)
- Save time for shopping -the Hall of Fame gift shop has more than just your typical souvenirs. You’ll find a large variety of vinyl records and books.
- The museum is home to three restaurants – you can grab a snack in the lobby area or enjoy a sit-down meal too.
- Check out the museum’s calendar of events, they often have songwriter sessions, Q&As with artists, meet and greets and plenty of hands-on events for kids too.
Plan Your Visit
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is in the heart of Downtown Nashville – connected to the Omni Nashville Hotel and just one block from the honky-tonk bars and stages along Broadway. It is a certainly a ‘must do’ experience for music fans – there is such great history and stories within this building.
Be sure to follow the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum Facebook page for news on the latest exhibits and events and check out their Twitter and Instagram pages for great trivia and photos of the items on display at the museum.
Have You Visited the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum?
** Thank you to the Country Music Hall of Fame for providing two complimentary tickets for our visit to Nashville. Thoughts and opinions here are 100% my own. **