Learn more about the museum
Learn more about the museum
The new Tennessee State Museum site is appropriately located in the shadow of the Tennessee State Capitol on Nashville’s Bicentennial Mall, just steps from the Sounds stadium, the Farmers Market and Germantown. At the corner of Rosa Parks Boulevard and Jefferson Street.
Like Tennessee itself, our new State Museum will never stand still. Many of the Museum’s experiences will rotate with new themes, new exhibits, and will feature mobile and portable traveling and digital exhibits as well. For those who cannot travel to the museum, the museum will bring our Tennessee Story to them.
Tennessee’s history is America’s history. And we want to bring that history to life in innovative new ways for as many people as possible.
It’s time to tell the Tennessee story the way it should be told.
Art, music, stories and discoveries. Videos, touchscreens and exhibits where you become part of the story and decide the outcome.
A state-of-the-art interactive institution capable of capturing the imagination, discoveries, accomplishments, personalities, legends, tunes and tales that define Tennessee.
An experience worthy of the extraordinary contributions our state has made to the nation.
The new Tennessee State Museum takes a unique hybrid approach to telling our state’s story - with a "Tennessee Time Tunnel" serving as the backbone of this experiential journey through the history of Tennessee. The Time Tunnel will combine content-rich artifacts, exhibits and stories from our permanent collection with engaging media and thought-provoking interactives for a multi-layered experience.
Future exhibits will also use innovative technology to immerse visitors in our state’s stories, artifacts and landmark historical events with sight, sound, video, graphics and dramatic interactive storytelling.
Side detours leading into six different galleries will also allow visitors to explore specific periods and themes more deeply – including our Civil War history, music, art and cultural issues of the day.
The Tennessee State Museum will also feature a diverse mix of traditional and new-technology experiences, from straightforward gallery displays, to interactive exhibits that will include spectacular images, audio and film.
Large-scale immersive environments will give visitors a sense of place and evoke emotion as part of their experience. These exhibits are designed to touch all senses and inspire our visitors to share and engage more personally with our rich content beyond the museum’s walls, via social media and smart devices.
A 250-seat Digital Learning and Outreach Center will provide presentation space and serve as the connector to other museums, experts, colleges and schools across the state, around the country and throughout the world. Here, the finest speakers and scholars can appear, lecture and engage our audiences personally and in digital form.
With the national spotlight increasingly on our state, now is the perfect time for our State Museum to join the growing number of memorable experiences Tennessee has to offer every day.
The earliest record of a museum in the State of Tennessee dates back to 1817, when portrait artist Ralph E. W. Earl opened a museum on the public square in Nashville.
The official State Museum opened in 1937 in the War Memorial Building after being authorized by the General Assembly, which felt the state needed a museum to curate various collections and artifacts from the state and mementos from World War I. In 1981, most of the museum operations moved to the James K. Polk Building which it has shared with the Tennessee Performing Arts Center and state department offices.
Museum operations and policies are now overseen by the The Douglas Henry State Museum Commission, a group of citizens appointed to represent the public interest.
In 2013, the State Building Commission revived plans for the new State Museum with a total budget of $160 million. At the request of Governor Bill Haslam, the General Assembly appropriated $120 million from the state, with the remainder to be raised through private donations.
The Tennessee State Museum also owns the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, site of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and part of the non-profit, privately-owned museum complex of the National Civil Rights Museum.
Gallagher & Associates is an international museum design firm with projects that include unique visitor experiences for The National Archives and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, the New York State Museum, the Grammy Museum and Natural History Museum in Los Angeles, and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta.
HGA is an internationally renowned integrated architecture, engineering and planning firm, known for its forward-thinking design solutions. HGA's founders were schooled in the Bauhaus tradition which stressed a collaborative and inter-disciplinary approach to Modernism. Projects include the Yale Medical Center, the California African-American Museum, the Harley Davidson Museum and LinkedIn Corporate Headquarters in California.
EOA Architects is an award-winning, design-oriented architecture, planning and interior design firm located in Nashville, Tennessee. Past projects include the Pinnacle Tower, Vanderbilt University Law School and the new Kissam Center, and BMW North America.
Compass Partners, LLC is a full-service facility development and planning consultancy in Nashville, Tennesssee, with a diverse national client portfolio. Projects of note include the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Nashville’s Music City Center.
Turner is the largest international construction services company in North America. The company has earned recognition for undertaking large, complex projects, fostering innovation and embracing emerging technologies. Past clients include the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, Boeing World Headquarters in Chicago and Stanford’s Bing Concert Hall.
Lord Cultural Resources is a global professional practice dedicated to creating cultural capital worldwide. Lord offers a comprehensive range of integrated services including master and business planning, feasibility studies, cultural and heritage tourism planning, architect selection, interpretive planning, exhibition design, project management, training and recruitment. Their client list includes over 1,000 museum projects worldwide.
The Tennessee Department of General Services is responsible for providing goods and services to the State government of Tennessee. The Department’s services include centralized procurement for State departments, management of the State’s real estate assets, printing, media, and photographic services, warehousing and distribution, shuttle services and assistance to small businesses and businesses owned by minorities, women, and veterans.
The Honorable Bill Haslam
Governor, State of Tennessee
109th Tennessee General Assembly
Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey
Speaker of the House Beth Harwell
State Senator Thelma Harper, District 19
State Representative Bill Beck, House District 51
The Douglas Henry State Museum Commission
State Representative Steve McDaniel, Chairman (2014 - 2016)
Tom Smith, Chairman (2016 - present)
Tennessee State Museum Foundation
Robert P. Thomas, Chairman (2011 - 2016)
Dr. Paul McCombs (2017 - present)