Everyone likes music, it’s just human nature to do so. If there is one thing that survived and thrived in cultures worldwide, it’s music. Given the importance music holds in our hearts, it is only right that we document and preserve its history. And that is why music museums are such an important addition to societies around the world. Each city, town, and region has its own rich background related to music and its local evolution. One such city is Memphis. Located along the Mississippi River in Shelby County, this American city is known for being the birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll and as the home of the Blues. Naturally, the city has many music related attractions, like the iconic Beale Street or the famed Sun Studio. Along with these, the city boasts multiple music museums, and we will be talking about some of the best ones you can visit.
The Blues Hall Of Fame
Located at 421 S. Main Street, the Blues Hall of Fame only recently took the form of a physical building in the year 2015. Unassuming from the outside, this building houses a hall of fame of many famous names that contributed to the Blues genre of music. Visitors can learn about over 400 personalities, each sorted into various categories ranging from performer and literature to album and individual. The museum also hosts some prized artifacts on display for visitors to look at and learn about.
Though not a museum per se, no visit to Memphis with music in mind would be complete without a visit to the iconic Beale Street in Downtown. Created in 1841 by Robertson Topp and named after a forgotten war hero, Beale Street has played a historical role in the history of Memphis along with the history of the Blues. Famed artists like Muddy Waters, Louis Armstrong, B.B King, Rosco Gordon, and Memphis Minnie performed on this street during the first half of the last century. Today, Beale Street is a popular tourist attraction with dozens of bars, clubs, and restaurants. Outdoor festivals and concerts also regularly take place at Beale Street.
Stax Museum Of American Soul Music
Located at 926 East McLemore Avenue and former home to Stax Records, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music is currently operated and run by Soulsville USA. This museum, as the name clearly states, is completely devoted to the genre of music known as soul music. The museum boasts interactive exhibits, over 2000 videos, films, and photographs, and original instruments among other attractions and displays. The museum also proudly features soul music labels other than Stax Records. Two of the many interesting attractions at the museum include a reassembled 1906 church, and a restored 1972 Cadillac El Dorado which belonged to Isaac Hayes.
The Memphis Rock ‘N’ Soul Museum
Situated at 191 Beale Street, the Memphis Rock ‘N’ Soul Museum focuses on providing a thorough history of the city and all the artists that it produced. Music genres, the races of the artists, and artist backgrounds are all talked about extensively. The museum also focuses on detailing the racial and socio-economic obstacles various artists had to overcome when producing music. The museum also has over a hundred songs that were recorded in or around the city of Memphis.
Located at 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard, the Graceland mansion was owned by the renowned and extremely famous singer and actor, Elvis Aaron Presley. Five years after the icon’s death, the mansion was opened as a museum to the public in the year 1982. The Graceland mansion has been named a National Historic Landmark, and is the second most visited house in the United States, just behind the White House itself. The inside of the mansion is a blend of different eccentric decorations in every room and has received a number of famous guests ranging from the American and Japanese presidents to Princes William and Harry of the United Kingdom. The mansion also includes the grave of Elvis Presley himself, along with his other deceased family members.
Located at 706 Union Avenue, Sun Studio is the self-proclaimed birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll. One of many studios turned into a museum, Sun Studio has the distinction of being the first label to record famed artists like Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. The museum boasts some wildly popular attractions, one of which is allowing guests to not only see, but stand on the spot where Elvis Presley first recorded.
The Memphis Music Hall Of Fame
Administered by the aforementioned Memphis Rock ‘N’ Soul Museum, the Memphis Music Hall of Fame takes it upon itself to honor musicians from Memphis. It holds an annual induction ceremony and concert and has inducted almost fifty individuals and groups. It also has an exhibit hall which opened back in 2015 and features interactive exhibits, video interviews, and other bits of memorabilia.
And that pretty much wraps up the must-see music museums you can find in Memphis, Tennessee. A melting pot of musical culture, the city is teeming with dozens more music related activities that are not about going to museums. But if you choose to hit up a few of the spots we have mentioned above, you are sure to still enjoy your stay at Memphis and have a blast. Wanting to read a bit more about music? We have an excellent post on the history of Jazz music. Not wanting to read about history but still looking for something related to music? We made a list of the 25 classic Rock DVDs you won’t want to miss.