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Best Nashville Museums

6 Free Museums in Nashville to Visit 🏺 | Best Museums in Nashville with Free Admission

Last Updated on: 31st July 2023, 11:09 pm

Looking for the best museums in Nashville? When you think of Nashville, you probably think of Country Music. It’s true that you’ll find lots of different music museums in Nashville related to Country Music in the Music City, with numerous exhibits dedicated to artists like Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, George Jones, and Glen Campbell. But you might be surprised to find that Nashville also has a variety of history, art, science, culture, Civil War, and other museums as well. Although some of the best museums in Nashville aren’t free, such as the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Johnny Cash Museum, and Museum and the Frist Art Museum, there are still many amazing ones that are! This guide features six of the best free museums in Nashville to visit.

Tennessee Agricultural Museum | One of the Top Free Museums in Nashville

Take a trip back to Tennessee farm and home life from the early 19th and 20th centuries at one of Nashville’s most well-known museums. The Tennessee Agricultural Museum is home to a collection of artifacts from a time gone by. The museum is located in a historic horse barn on the spacious grounds of Ellington Agricultural Center. Some of the highlights at the museum are horse-drawn wagons, a U.S. postal buggy, and a 1927 Fordson tractor.

Farm equipment, such as horse-drawn plows, weaving looms, and more, give visitors a look into what life was like on Tennessee farms over a hundred years ago. The Tennessee Agricultural Museum houses over 3,000 artifacts with two levels of exhibits and serves its community through educational programs and special events.  Adjacent to the museum are an heirloom garden, historic log cabins, a one-room schoolhouse, and wooded trails.

Museum hours & location

Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery | Free Nashville Art Museum

Located in the Jean & Alexander Heard Libraries on the beautiful campus of Vanderbilt University, the Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery houses over 7,000 works and is the only art historical collection in the Nashville area. This is one of the only free art museums in Nashville TN that includes East Asian art, works from European Masters, the Ancient World, African, Oceanic, Pre-Columbian art and artifacts, and more.

The Samuel H. Kress Study Collection is an impressive selection of fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth-century Renaissance art from northern and southern Italy.

The collection of American art is home to 19th, 20th, and 21st-century art and includes some very influential and well-known artists of the past two centuries. The collection includes oil paintings by Childe Hassam, the leader of the American Impressionist movement, and George Inness, the Barbizon-influenced landscape painter. Early twentieth-century works are highlighted by William Merritt Chase, a famed artist and teacher, whose students included Charles Demuth, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Charles Sheeler. Well-known names in American art like Mary Cassatt and James McNeill Whistler are represented in the collection. Modern masters include John Steuart Curry and Grant Wood, Abstract Expressionists Adolph Gottlieb and Robert Motherwell, and Minimalist Ad Reinhardt. Works from contemporary artists such as Kiki Smith, Kara Waller, Creighton Michael, and Andy Warhol are included as well.

The photography collection features 489 works from photographers such as Lucien Clergue, Ralph Gibson, and Donna Ferrato. If you’re looking for art museums in Nashville, this is a can’t miss.

Museum hours & location

Tennessee Governor’s Mansion | Nashville Museum Rich in History

The Governor’s Mansion is one of the most unique Nashville free museums! It’s a 3-story, 16-room home built in 1931 in stately Georgian architectural style. The home is situated on a 10-acre site. A main feature of the home is the Conservation Hall, a 14,000-square-foot subterranean meeting and banquet facility. Guided tours offer a look at the first floor of the Residence, Conservation Hall, and the Residence garden and grounds. A collection of antiques and artwork from state artists demonstrates the state’s rich history.

The garden tour takes visitors along well-defined paths in the 2,800-square-foot garden where fresh fruits and vegetables are grown and used in for residence meals for family and guests. The garden highlight is the Armillary Sundial, which includes a mockingbird, tomato, Tulip Poplar leaf, and Eastern Box turtle, all Tennessee state symbols. The tour includes stories about the history of the home.

Museum hours & location

Cooter’s Place | One of the Best Free Museums In Nashville For Car Enthusiasts

 

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If you’re a fan of the Dukes of Hazzard, you have to check out one of the best Nashville museums, Cooter’s Place! This Dukes of Hazzard museum is run by actor Ben Jones, who played Cooter on the popular TV show. The museum houses lots of memorabilia from the show, such as pictures, props, costumes, and several of the famous

Dukes of Hazzard vehicles used in scenes from the show, among them Cooter’s tow truck, Daisy’s jeep, Rosco’s patrol car, and the iconic 1969 Dodge Charger. Sit inside any of the vehicles for a one-of-a-kind photo op. The museum also hosts events throughout the year, including car shows, costume contests, and car caravans.

Museum hours & location

Tennessee State Museum | Best Nashville History Museum

The Tennessee State Museum is a large, 137,000-square-foot building in downtown Nashville displaying the history of Tennessee. If you’re looking for Nashville TN museums that cover history, this is the place to be. The museum takes visitors through a permanent collection, a hands-on children’s gallery, six rotating galleries, a digital learning center, and a two-story Grand Hall.

The exhibits and artifacts depict the state’s history, including art, furniture, textiles, and photographs. A Civil War collection consists of authentic uniforms, battle flags, and weapons. A highlight is the “Tennessee Time Tunnel” that you can walk through and learn about the area’s history. The museum also has a Native American collection from a time long before European settlers arrived.

Museum hours & location

The Parthenon | Top-Rated Free Nashville History Museum

 

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The Parthenon is one of the best Nashville history museums. The original Nashville Parthenon, located in Centennial Park, was built of plaster, wood, and brick in 1897 as part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. The temporary structure was replaced by a concrete aggregate permanent building in 1931. The Parthenon is a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens. The iconic building houses an art museum and a recreation of the Athena Parthenos statue, copied from the one in ancient Greece. The building is painted to closely depict what the original might have looked like, and the exterior was completely restored in 2002. The Nashville Parthenon is a must see in Nashville.

The Parthenon in Athens was carved out of Pentelic marble and took about 10 years to construct between 447 and 438 BCE. An amazing architectural achievement, the Greek Parthenon contains no true straight lines as all the architectural elements arch slightly in the center, yet the arches are imperceivable to the human eye. The Nashville Parthenon was constructed in exactly the same manner, using brick, stone, structural reinforced concrete, and cast concrete aggregate. The construction took almost 10 years to complete, from 1921 through 1931.

The interior of the Parthenon is divided into two rooms. The east room, or the Naos, houses the statue of Athena. The west room is known as the Treasury. In the Athens Parthenon, this room is where many treasures were kept. The art museum’s permanent collection consists of 63 paintings by 19th and 20th-century American artists. This is by far one of the best history museums in Nashville. An additional gallery hosts temporary shows and exhibits. Although the museum does cost $10.00 for adults, this is a free Nashville museum for kids under four! The building itself is a look back in time and a unique experience for visitors without having to travel to Greece!

Museum hours & location

Map of Free Museums in Nashville

The city has many free museums in Nashville you won’t find the likes of anywhere else. Although most of them do charge for admission, you can find excellent free museums in the city as well, featuring fine art, architecture, artifacts, Tennessee history, Civil War history, and more. Our movers in Nashville are ready to help. Our top-rated, experienced team can take the stress from your move and give you the service you deserve. Call us today at 615-434-8272 for your free moving estimate!

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