MUSEUMS AND ART COLLECTIONS:
National Civil Rights Museum
The National Civil Rights Museum is located in the former Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. It includes a historical overview of the American civil rights movement.
Brooks Museum of Art
The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, founded in 1916, is the oldest and largest fine art museum in the state of Tennessee. The Brooks’ permanent collection includes works from the Italian Renaissance and Baroque eras to British, French Impressionists and 20th century artists.
Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art
The Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art, founded in 1988, is located in downtown Memphis near the historic Peabody Hotel. It is sometimes locally referred to as “The Jade Museum” because of the large collection of Asian art made out of jade. In addition to its extensive collection of Asian artwork, it contains a sizable collection of Judaic art.
Dixon Gallery and Gardens
The Dixon Gallery and Gardens, founded in 1976, focuses on French and American impressionism and features works by Monet, Degas and Renoir, as well as pieces by Pierre Bonnard, Mary Cassatt, Marc Chagall, Honoré Daumier, Henri Fantin-Latour, Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, Berthe Morisot, Edvard Munch, Auguste Rodin and Alfred Sisley, as well as an extensive collection of works by French Impressionist artist Jean-Louis Forain. The museum also houses the Stout Collection of 18th century German porcelain. With nearly 600 pieces of tableware and figures, it is one of the finest such collections in the United States. The Dixon campus also contains a 17 acre public garden.
Children’s Museum of Memphis
The Children’s Museum of Memphis exhibits interactive and educational activities for children to take part in, including a skyscraper maze, an airplane cockpit (donated by FedEx), a fire engine, an art studio, grocery store, and, most recently, a mechanic’s garage sponsored by AutoZone, Inc.
Graceland, the former home of music legend Elvis Presley, is one of the most visited houses in the United States (second only to the White House), attracting over 600,000 visitors a year. Featured at Graceland are two of Presley’s private airplanes, his extensive automobile and motorcycle collection and other Elvis memorabilia. On November 7, 1991, Graceland was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Also see: History of Graceland With Home Movies and Pictures | Elvis – The Music | Elvis Radio | Elvis.com | Fan Clubs
The Pink Palace Museum serves as the Mid-South’s major science and historical museum, and features exhibits ranging from archeology to chemistry. It includes the third largest planetarium in the United States and an IMAX theater. One exhibit features a replica of the original Piggly Wiggly store, the first self-service grocery store, commemorating the invention of the supermarket by Memphian Clarence Saunders in 1916.
Memphis Walk of Fame
The Memphis Walk of Fame (Brass Notes) is a public exhibit located in the Beale Street historic district, which is modeled after the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but is designated exclusively for Memphis musicians, singers, writers and composers. Honorees include W. C. Handy, B.B. King, Bobby Blue Bland and Alberta Hunter, among 124 others. See: Historic Memphis Beale Street
Mud Island River Park
Mud Island River Park and Mississippi River Museum is located on Mud Island in downtown Memphis. The park is noted for its River Walk, a 2112:1 scale working model showing 1,000 miles of the Lower Mississippi River, from Cairo (Illinois) to New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico. 30 inches in the model equal 1 mile of the Mississippi River. The Walk stretches roughly 0.5 miles, allowing visitors to walk in the water and see models of cities and bridges along the way. It is accessible by the Memphis Suspension Railway Monorail, footbridge (covered top of the monorail), ferry, or automobile.
Victorian Village is a historic district of Memphis featuring a series of fine Victorian-era mansions, some of which are open to the public as museums. These mansions now stand near the city’s downtown district, along Adams Avenue. While most of the original homes are now gone, several remain as museums: the Magevney House (198 Adams), the Mallory-Neely House (652 Adams) and the Woodruff-Fontaine House (680 Adams). After 60+ years of being vacant, the James Lee House has been renovated into a Bed and Breakfast. The Lowenstein-Long House (1901) at 217 N. Waldran Blvd. and the Lee-Macintyre House in Victorian Village are considered to be endangered by Memphis Heritage. Also see: Maps of Historic Treasures (walking tour) | PDF printable version | Memphis history
The Cotton Museum opened in March 2006 on the old trading floor of the Memphis Cotton Exchange at 65 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN. The museum highlights artifacts through interpretive exhibits, educational programs, and research archives that help tell the story of cotton and cotton trading, from crop to becoming fabric. The Cotton Museum preserves the history of the cotton business and its impact on economics, history, society and culture, and science and technology. Exhibits are appropriate for field trips for middle schoolers and older. Also see: TN History for Kids
The Stax Museum is a museum located at 926 McLemore Avenue, Memphis, TN. The building is the former location of Stax Records. The original building, a converted movie theatre where artists such as Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Booker T. & the M.G.’s, Sam & Dave and many others recorded throughout the ’60s and ’70s, was torn down, but the original front was reconstructed on the original property. It is operated by Soulsville USA, which also operates the adjacent Stax Music Academy. The original Satellite Record Shop was also reconstructed beside it. It is the only museum in the United States to be devoted entirely to soul music.
Chucalissa Indian Village
Chucalissa Indian Village (1987 Indian Village Drive, Memphis, TN) is a Walls Phase mound and plaza complex that was occupied, abandoned and reoccupied several times throughout its history, spanning from 1000 to 1550 AD. Civilian Conservation Corps workers discovered Native American artifacts on the site in 1938 and archaeological excavations of this Mississippian mound complex were initiated. The facility has been operated by the University of Memphis since 1962. In 1973 Chucalissa Indian Village was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Later, in 1994, it was declared a National Historic Landmark. It is the site of the Southeast Indian Heritage Festival held annually in October. Also see: Chucalissa for kids | Nearby historic sites
The Memphis National Cemetery is a United States National Cemetery located in the Nutbush neighborhood in northeastern Memphis. It encompasses 44.2 acres, and has over 42,184 interments. It was originally established as Mississippi River National Cemetery when the Union Army forces took control of Memphis during the American Civil War. The cemetery served veterans who died while in the many military hospitals in the delta region of the Mississippi River. After the war, several battlefield cemeteries were transferred to Memphis National Cemetery. In 1867, about 250 bodies of both Confederate and Union soldiers, some of whom were casualties of the Battle of Fort Pillow in Lauderdale County, were moved from a battlefield cemetery south of Fort Pillow to Memphis National Cemetery to be re-interred in a designated field. On the night of April 26, 1865, the steamboat Sultana, overloaded with Union soldiers who had recently been liberated from Confederate POW camps, exploded due to a boiler rupture on the Mississippi River several miles north of Memphis. Many of the dead from that accident are buried here.
Historic Elmwood Cemetery is one of the oldest rural garden cemeteries in the South, and contains the Carlisle S. Page Arboretum. Memorial Park Cemetery is noted for its sculptures by Mexican artist Dionicio Rodriguez. The dramatic Entry Bridge, the Carpenter-Gothic Office Cottage– the entire 80-acre cemetery – are all on the National Register of Historic Places. Elmwood is also an official Bird Sanctuary and Arboretum. Beneath the ancient elms, oaks and magnolias, rests our most honored and revered, famous and infamous, and most loved and feared. Among the veterans of every American war, even the Revolutionary War. side-by-side with generals, senators, governors, mayors and madams. Visit the last 160 years of history at Elmwood. Also see: Photo tour | Walking tour
Elvis Presley was originally buried in Forest Hill Cemetery, the resting place of his backing band’s bassist, Bill Black, but after an attempted grave robbing, his body was moved to the grounds of Graceland.
Also see: Rare Photo – Gladys Presley’s original gravesite at Forest Hill Cemetery — Mother of Elvis Presley | Elvis Presley’s original tomb up for sale | Elvis Presley’s tomb removed from auction block
PARKS AND RECREATION:
Major Memphis parks include W.C. Handy Park, Tom Lee Park, Audubon Park, Overton Park including the Old Forest Arboretum, the Lichterman Nature Center (a nature learning center), the Memphis Botanic Garden, and Jesse H Turner Park (map). Shelby Farms park, located at the eastern edge of the city, is one of the largest urban parks in the United States. It covers more than five times the area of Central Park in New York City with 843 acres. See also: Shelby Farms trail maps | Shelby Farms Greenline | Shelby Farms bike rentals
P0INTS OF INTEREST:
Blues fans can visit Beale Street, which used to be the center of the Black community, where a young B.B. King used to play his guitar. He occasionally appears there at the club bearing his name, which he partially owns. Street performers play live music, and bars and clubs feature live entertainment until dawn.
The Memphis Zoo, which is located in midtown Memphis, features many exhibits of mammals, birds, fish, and amphibians from all over the world. The zoo’s giant panda exhibit is one of only five in North America. The Memphis Zoo is one of few that have successfully resulted in live births of rhinoceros in captivity.
The Peabody Hotel is well known for the “Peabody Ducks” that live on the hotel rooftop, making the journey to the hotel lobby in a daily “March of Ducks” ritual.
Sun Studio is a highly influential recording studio opened on 3 January 1950 by rock pioneer Sam Phillips at 706 Union Avenue. It is available for tour, which is where Elvis Presley first recorded “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin”. Other famous musicians who got their start at Sun include Johnny Cash, Rufus Thomas, Charlie Rich, Howlin’ Wolf, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. It now contains a museum as well as the still-functioning and operating studio.
The Orpheum Theatre
The Orpheum Theatre was built in 1928 upon the former property of the Grand Opera House, which was burnt to the ground in 1923 during a strip tease performance by Blossom Seeley. After vaudeville’s popularity waned, the building was purchased by the Malco Theatres theatre chain in 1940 and presented first-run films until Malco sold the building in 1976. The Orpheum is now managed by the Memphis Development Foundation and presents 10 to 12 Broadway shows each year. The theatre is also home to two of Memphis’ local arts groups, Ballet Memphis and Opera Memphis.
The New Daisy Theatre
The New Daisy Theatre is an all-ages concert venue located on Beale Street. After 11 pm, only those at least 18 years of age are allowed on Beale—unless they are going to (or from) a destination point like the New Daisy. The New Daisy routinely presents some of the biggest acts to come to the Mid South. Possibly the most popular venue in Memphis, past acts have included Ani DiFranco, AFI, Cannibal Corpse, GWAR, Insane Clown Posse, Keller Williams, Lamb of God, Led Zeppelin, the Doors and Black Sabbath among many others. The venue also, on occasion, hosts the Gorilla Production Battle of the Bands as well as Mixed Martial Arts fights.
Mud Island Amphitheatre
Located on Front Avenue, the Mud Island Amphitheatre is a concert venue with an approximate capacity of 5,000 viewers. As one of the two major concert venues in Memphis, past acts have included the likes of R.E.M., Phish, 311, the Black Crowes, Fall Out Boy, Journey, New Kids on the Block, O.A.R., Pat Benatar, Smashing Pumpkins, Steely Dan, and Willie Nelson.
The Pyramid Arena is a former athletic and music venue. It is one of the first sights seen when entering the city from West Memphis via the Memphis-Arkansas Memorial Bridge. The facility was built in 1991 and was originally owned and operated jointly by the city of Memphis and Shelby County. Its unique structure plays on the city’s namesake in Egypt, known for its ancient pyramids. At 321 feet (98 m), it is the sixth-largest pyramid in the world behind the Great Pyramid of Giza 456 ft (139 m), Khafre’s Pyramid 446 ft (136 m), the Luxor Hotel 348 ft (106 m), the Red Pyramid 341 ft (104 m) and the Bent Pyramid 331 ft (101 m). As a music venue, it was the largest in Memphis, presenting such acts as R.E.M., Phish, Aerosmith, Janet Jackson, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, the Doobie Brothers, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band was the last concert ever held in the Pyramid in 2008.
It has been host to the University of Memphis NCAA basketball team, the Memphis Grizzlies NBA team, the Great Midwest Conference basketball tournament, the Southeastern Conference basketball tournament, the Conference USA basketball tournaments, and the 2003 Conference USA women’s basketball tournament. It has also hosted first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament and a pay-per-view event by the WWF. The Pyramid was the venue of the boxing match between Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson in 2002.
In 2008, the City of Memphis began leasing the Pyramid to Bass Pro Shops; the facility is to become Bass Pro’s largest superstore in the country with a projected grand opening by August 2014.
Other Memphis attractions include the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, FedExForum, and Mississippi riverboat day cruises.
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