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Best Pop Culture Museum (2021)

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The United States has long been a hotbed of pop culture – the birthplace of numerous musical genres and some of the world’s most famous singers, songwriters, directors and film stars. These museums celebrate American musical, movie and TV history, through the lens of a specific artist or genre, or with a big picture approach.

  • Birthplace of Country Music Museum

    Birthplace of Country Music Museum
    Bristol, Virginia

    This museum showcases the roles Bristol, Tennessee and Bristol, Virginia played in the development of country music. The Smithsonian affiliate traces this musical history back to the 1927 Bristol Sessions recording – a recording that helped shape the sound of commercial country music. The collection includes photographs, printed music, recordings, concert posters, instruments and a variety of recording and playback gear.
    Photo courtesy of Birthplace of Country Music Museum

  • Patsy Cline Museum

    Patsy Cline Museum
    Nashville

    Patsy Cline died young – she was only 30 years old – but she left a big mark on the American country music industry. This Nashville museum explores her life and work through artifacts, personal belongings, video and audio recordings and costumes.
    Photo courtesy of Patsy Cline Museum

  • Rancho Obi-Wan

    Rancho Obi-Wan
    Petaluma, California

    Rancho Obi-Wan houses the world’s largest collection of Star Wars memorabilia, certified by the Guinness World Records. Visits (by appointment only) give fans an opportunity to see a huge assortment of action figures and props, as well as vintage pinball and arcade games.
    Photo courtesy of Rancho Obi-Wan

  • Stax Museum of American Soul Music

    Stax Museum of American Soul Music
    Memphis

    The Stax Museum is one of only a few museums in the world dedicated to soul music, and it claims to be the only museum that focuses specifically on American soul. This Memphis-based museum is stationed at the original location of the Stax Records studio, where legendary musicians recorded, such as Isaac Hayes, Booker T and Otis Redding. Visitors see more than 2,000 related artifacts, browse soul music museums and check out exhibits. Don’t miss the films that feature other influential soul artists, such as Al Green and Patti LaBelle.
    Photo courtesy of Stax Museum of American Soul Music

  • GRAMMY Museum L.A. Live

    GRAMMY Museum L.A. Live
    Los Angeles

    Exhibits at the GRAMMY Museum L.A. Live in Los Angeles tell the story of American music through interactive touch tables, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, musical recordings and vintage footage and an interactive map tracing the times and places significant in the timeline of the nation’s musical story. The museum is temporarily closed.
    Photo courtesy of GRAMMY Museum L.A. Live

  • B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center

    B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center
    Indianola, Mississippi

    The B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola celebrates the blues – America's music – and the man who helped spread its popularity around the world. Interactive exhibits and artifacts trace the history of the blues through its Mississippi Delta roots through the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
    Photo courtesy of B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center

  • Sigal Music Museum

    Sigal Music Museum
    Greenville, South Carolina

    The Sigal Music Museum debuted in spring 2018 as one of the largest major music collections in the southeastern United States. Highlights of the collection include more than 25 English, European and American pianos (some dating back to 1570), over 50 woodwinds and an assortment of other rare instruments from around the globe.
    Photo courtesy of Sigal Music Museum

  • Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

    Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
    Cleveland, Ohio

    Yes, this is the hall of fame for rock stars. This museum on the Lake Erie shores in Cleveland opened shop in 1995. Today, visitors can experience four different theaters, seven floors of exhibits, all kinds of interactive stations and more, while learning about some of the most influential rock musicians in history. 
    Photo courtesy of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

  • OZ Museum

    OZ Museum
    Wamego, Kansas

    The wonderful world of the Wizard of Oz comes to life at the OZ Museum, where visitors can see more than 2,000 artifacts from the film, like hand-jeweled ruby slippers, a reproduction of the haunted forest and original movie production notes.
    Photo courtesy of OZ Museum

  • GRAMMY Museum Mississippi

    GRAMMY Museum Mississippi
    Cleveland, Mississippi

    The 28,000-square-foot GRAMMY Museum Mississippi opened its doors in 2011 with two dozen exhibits exploring American music history in the state. Mississippi was chosen as the site for this second GRAMMY Museum due to its rich musical heritage – the state has more GRAMMY winners per capital than any other state in the nation.
    Photo courtesy of GRAMMY Museum Mississippi

The top 10 winners in the category Best Pop Culture Museum are as follows:

  1. Birthplace of Country Music Museum - Bristol, Virginia
  2. Patsy Cline Museum - Nashville
  3. Rancho Obi-Wan - Petaluma, California
  4. Stax Museum of American Soul Music - Memphis
  5. GRAMMY Museum L.A. Live - Los Angeles
  6. B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center - Indianola, Mississippi
  7. Sigal Music Museum - Greenville, South Carolina
  8. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame - Cleveland, Ohio
  9. OZ Museum - Wamego, Kansas
  10. GRAMMY Museum Mississippi - Cleveland, Mississippi

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote.

Congratulations to all these winning pop culture museums!

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