Rock, Metal, Art and Soul: Discover 10 Memphis Must-Do Museums

Visiting a museum is always a unique experience, as each one has its own distinct characteristics, style, and of course, content. That's especially true in Memphis, where museums tend to be smaller, intensely subject-focused, and absolutely fascinating.

History buffs will find the story of the Mississippi River and its importance to the city at the Mississippi River Museum on scenic Mud Island, while the city's most notorious event - the assassination of Dr. Mr. Luther King, Jr at the Lorraine Motel - is captured in realistic detail at the National Civil Rights Museum. A multimillion dollar renovation in 2014 brought even more impact at the museum through the use of interactive technology and updated exhibits and displays.

Art comes in many forms - metal, for one. All over the city, wrought iron decorations and signs adorn buildings and homes, and the history of metal work comes to vivid life at the National Ornamental Museum, located right on the banks of the Mississippi River. The decorative arts of Europe and America are well documented at the Brooks Museum, and fine paintings and jewels are often the subject of exhibits at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, where the pastoral setting sometimes competes with the objects on display.

Music is to Memphis what water is to a fish - part of necessary life - and the city's musical roots and soulful style are found through Stax and the Rock 'n' Soul Museum.

And kids get their due, too - with a few offerings aimed just at them (but pleasing to parents as well).

Dixon Gallery and Gardens
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Since 1976, this museum has housed a spectacular Impressionist collection including Degas, Monet and Pisarro, and the collection of art is rivaled only by the gorgeous gardens surrounding what was once one of Memphis' finest estates. The...  Read More



Decorative metalwork is a hallmark of the design and architecture of the American South, and the Metal Museum is dedicated to the art of fine metalwork, as well as its history. Exhibits range from an examination of piercing to antique...  Read More

Children's Museum of Memphis


Kids rejoice! At this museum, you're supposed to touch everything! Hands-on, interactive exhibits and activities for children are the focus here. Exhibit topics range from waterworks to health, recycling to house construction, money to...  Read More



Think of the Memphis Rock n' Soul Museum as the broad overview of Memphis music. With exhibits about gospel, the blues, Elvis, the rise of soul, and crunk - all decidedly made-or-born-in-Memphis genres, the museum offers the big picture of...  Read More



The Fire Museum of Memphis occupies the old Engine House Number One in downtown Memphis, built in 1910. The museum depicts the life of a firefighter and presents vintage equipment dating from the early 1900s, including a restored 1897 Hale...  Read More

Chucalissa Archaeological Museum


Chucalissa is Choctaw for "abandoned house," and at this museum visitors can see reconstructed houses dating from the 15th century AD - but the real attraction is the live archeological site, used as a lab for training archaeologists as well as...  Read More



Mud Island is reached by an aerial tram (you may remember it from the Tom Cruise movie, The Firm) and features a to-scale model of the Mississippit River that one can walk along, noting the changing conditions of the river. The Mississippi...  Read More

National Civil Rights Museum


The National Civil Rights Museum underwent a year-long, multi-million dollar rebirth, re-opening the full museum in 2014 with more interactivity, deeper exhibits, and an even better telling of the stories of the American civil rights movement....  Read More



The lesser known of Memphis' major musical attractions, Stax is one of the richest experiences in the city for music lovers. Home to what became known as the Memphis Sound, Stax is where Isaac Hayes, Al Green, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin,...  Read More



Located in a 1916 building that was given a space-expanding, award-winning addition, Memphis Brooks Museum features collections of fine and decorative arts from antiquity to the present. You'll find works representing French Impressionists,...  Read More


Meet Sally Walker Davies

Sally Walker Davies is enchanted by Memphis' music, history, and characters. From the artsy South Main Historic District to the grittiness of her favorite live music clubs to the sophisticated...  More About Sally