Tennessee State Museum Announces Permanent and Temporary Exhibitions for October Opening

Joining Permanent Exhibitions such as “Forging a Nation,” “The Civil War and Reconstruction” and “Tennessee Transforms,” are temporary shows celebrating the work of Red Grooms, exploring Tennessee’s Music Heritage, marking the Centennial of WWI and more.

  Belle Isle from Lyon's View, a view along the Tennessee River at Knoxville, by James Cameron, 1861. Oil on Canvas. On exhibit in the Tennessee State Museum as part of its Permanent Exhibitions.

Belle Isle from Lyon's View, a view along the Tennessee River at Knoxville, by James Cameron, 1861. Oil on Canvas. On exhibit in the Tennessee State Museum as part of its Permanent Exhibitions.

September 20, 2018 – In October, a bold new vision for the Tennessee State Museum will be realized when it opens at the northwest corner of Rosa L. Parks Blvd. and Jefferson Street at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. It’s the first and only building in the Museum’s 81-year history dedicated exclusively for its use. Housed in a 137,000-square-foot facility, the new location is built with the visitor in mind, with ample room to engage with history and the Museum’s vast collection of art and artifacts.

The permanent and temporary exhibitions on view when the Museum opens to the public on October 4, 2018 at 1:30 p.m. tell a variety of stories ranging from the First Tennesseans up to the present day. There will be no admission charge for any of the Museum's new exhibitions.

In the permanent galleries, Natural History introduces visitors to the origins of Tennessee’s amazing landscapes as well as its diverse animal and plant life, while also using fossils to show examples of life from long ago. First Peoples (13,000 BCE to 1760 CE) tells the story of how the First Peoples of Tennessee lived, about their culture, and how they defended their homelands against the European encroachment. Forging a Nation (1760-1860) delves into the stories of Southeastern Indians and Overmountain People, enslaved and free African Americans, the Creek War and War of 1812, Andrew Jackson, the Trail of Tears, President Polk, westward expansion, and more. In The Civil War and Reconstruction (1860-1870), visitors will learn how Tennesseans determined to secede from the Union and how the state remained divided on the issue throughout the war. Major battles and personalities are featured, including the experiences of common soldiers. African Americans are highlighted as they seek their own freedom, and some eventually fight for the Union. Also examined is how Tennesseans struggled to find a place in a world without slavery during the era of Reconstruction.

Following Reconstruction, Change and Challenge (1870 to 1945) explores how Tennesseans found ways forward through economic upheavals, social changes, and international conflicts. Visitors will learn how Tennessee women fought for the right to vote. Visitors will also examine how Tennesseans shared the nation’s challenges in World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II, and see artifacts such as World War I hero Alvin C. York’s Medal of Honor. Exhibits in the most contemporary permanent gallery, Tennessee Transforms (1945 to Present), highlight the impacts of post-war innovations on Tennesseans, the struggle of African-Americans to share in the new prosperity, the development of Tennessee’s music industries and their importance in shaping how outsiders view Tennessee, and how today’s Tennessee has emerged as a reflection of these dynamics.

The Tennessee Time Tunnel serves as the backbone for the entire permanent gallery experience, combining content-rich artifacts, exhibits and stories from our permanent collection with engaging media and thought-provoking interactives for a multi-layered experience.

Five additional galleries provide an opportunity for the Museum to tell even more stories. The State of Sound: Tennessee’s Musical Heritage uses artifacts, images, performance costumes and audio-visual media to introduce you to the stories of the people, places and events that transformed Tennessee into an internationally celebrated music center. Tennessee and the Great War: A Centennial Exhibition explores the state’s role in the Great War. Also opening are Early Expressions: Art in Tennessee Before 1900In Search of the New: Art in Tennessee Since 1900, and Red Grooms: A Retrospective (through January 13, 2019).

“Tennessee has stories to tell,” said Ashley Howell, executive director of the Tennessee State Museum. “Our permanent exhibitions highlight our collection to tell those stories; to introduce our visitors to the people and places and events that have made the state’s history so dynamic. Our opening temporary exhibitions highlight eras, individuals and artists that have further contributed to the development of Tennessee’s identity within the state, and role on the national and international stage.

“Particularly exciting is the way we tell these stories. We know that everyone engages with museums differently, whether you enjoy exploring artifacts and images, viewing documentary, films or interacting with touch-screen displays.”

The Museum’s Grand Opening Weekend hours are: 
Thursday, October 4: 1:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Friday, October 5: 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 6: 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, October 7: 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Monday, October 8: 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

More extensive information about each gallery, along with information about directions, parking and extended hours, will be available when the Museum’s new web site at launches in late September.


New Museum Grand Opening Weekend Hours / How to Get Here

The Tennessee State Museum will offer special hours for its Grand Opening Weekend, October 4-8, 2018. Those hours are:

Thursday, October 4: 1:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Friday, October 5: 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 6: 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, October 7: 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Monday, October 8: 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Special Parking for the Grand Opening

Parking and Shuttle Advisory for the Grand Opening Weekend: In addition to Museum's Grand Opening, there are several events planned at Bicentennial Capitol Mall Park during the opening weekend and subsequent weekends in October. While there is free parking available in the parking lot located between the Museum and the Nashville Farmers’ Market, and free two-hour parking available along 6th and 7th Avenues, we anticipate heavy traffic and full lots opening weekend and every weekend in October. We highly recommend you take advantage of special shuttle service or alternate modes of transportation. See below.

Shuttle Service:

On Thursday, Oct. 4, Friday Oct. 5, and Monday, Oct. 8 there will be additional parking available at Nissan Stadium in Lot N. A free Anchor shuttle bus will be available to take visitors to the Museum and back to the parking lot after their visit. The shuttle will be running one-half hour prior to the Museum’s opening. The last shuttle will run when the Museum closes at 5 p.m.  (with the exception of Thursday, Oct. 4, night when the Museum closes at 8 p.m.)

After Opening Weekend, our standard hours will be:

Monday: Closed
Tuesday: 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday: 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Thursday: 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Friday: 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Saturday: 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Sunday: 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.


How to Get Here:

Parking, Walking, Biking and Public Transit

Parking: Free parking is available in the parking lot located between the Museum and the Nashville Farmers’ Market. There is also free two-hour parking available along 6th and 7th Avenues. On weekends, visitors may also park free in the state employee parking lots around the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park.

Walking: The Museum is conveniently located just one block west of the Downtown Greenway trailhead and adjacent to Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. Walking Tour maps that include tours of both downtown as well as in and around the area are available for purchase at Nashville Civic Design Center for $5.

Biking: Bike racks are located at 7th Avenue in front of the Farmers’ Market House. There is also a Nashville B-Cycle bikeshare dock located in that area. Bikes can be rented at Nashville B-Cycle.

Public Transportation: The WeGo Transit (Formerly Nashville MTA) Nos. 42 (St. Cecilia/Cumberland) and 22 (Bordeaux) go to the intersection of Rosa Parks and Jefferson Street. In addition, the free Music City Circuit Nos. 60 (Blue) and 61 (Green). Stop near the Farmer’s Market just east of the Museum.

Hop On Hop Off Tours: Hop On Hop Off Tours are offered by both Old Time Trolley and Gray Line tour companies which have stops at the Museum in front of the Rosa Parks entrance.

Driving: The Tennessee State Museum is conveniently located at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, at the corner of Rosa L. Parks Blvd, and Jefferson Street, northwest of downtown Nashville and the State Capitol. 

From the North

  • Interstate 65 South to Exit #85, US-41A Metro Center / Rosa L. Parks Blvd.

  • Turn Left at the end of the exit ramp

  • Go 1 Mile. The Museum is located at the intersection of Rosa L. Parks Blvd and Jefferson St.

From the South

  • Interstate 40 West to 65 North, exit 208 B to Louisville

  • Take the first exit, #85, Metro Center/Rosa L. Parks Blvd. Right off the ramp to Rosa L. Parks Blvd.

  • Go 1 mile. The Museum is located at the intersection of Rosa L. Parks Blvd and Jefferson St.

From the East

  • Interstate 40 West to 65 North, exit 208 B to Louisville

  • Take the first exit, #85, Metro Center/Rosa L. Parks Blvd. Right off the ramp to Rosa L. Parks Blvd.

  • Go 1 mile. The Museum is located at the intersection of Rosa L. Parks Blvd and Jefferson St.

From the West

  • Interstate 40 East, continue through downtown Nashville to 65 North, exit at 208 B, Metro Center/Rosa L. Parks Blvd. and turn right.

  • Go 1 mile. The Museum is located at the intersection of Rosa L. Parks Blvd and Jefferson St.


New Tennessee State Museum Set to Open October 4

August 13, 2018 - The Tennessee State Museum is scheduled to open to the public on Thursday, October 4, 2018 at its new location on the corner of Rosa L. Parks Blvd. and Jefferson Street at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. Grand opening events will take place throughout the weekend.

“Since we first started working on this project, the plan was to build a 100-year museum to showcase the rich history of our state and provide a memorable experience to visitors of all ages,” Gov. Bill Haslam said. “It is exciting that we’re only months away from opening the doors to this important educational asset for Tennessee.” 

The Museum hosted its final event in its former location in the James K. Polk building in early May. Throughout the summer, artifacts and exhibitions are being installed in the new location.

“A lot of work has gone into not only building the new Museum but carefully transporting all of the historic art, artifacts, documents, and more that has been part of the Museum over the years,” Ashley Howell, executive director of the Tennessee State Museum, said. “Everything is leading up to the opening of the new Museum, and we couldn’t be prouder to share Tennessee’s story with the hundreds of thousands of people who walk through the doors of our new state-of-the-art facility. Best of all, the State Museum will continue to offer free admission for our many visitors.”

Additional information about grand opening events and activities will be announced in the coming weeks.