From Elvis to Civil Rights, Here’s What You Can Do at Some of the Best Memphis Museums

It’s no secret that Memphis is known for its museums, many of which feature rotating exhibits and permanent collections designed to inform and inspire visitors. When planning a trip to this educational destination, it’s well worth your time to schedule stops at any of these six museums. From grasping the Civil Rights movement to visiting Graceland, the opportunities to learn and explore in Memphis are limitless. Perfect for couples, families, or groups of friends, these six Memphis museums will expand your knowledge and leave you curious for more.

Be Moved By the Fight for Equality at the National Civil Rights Museum

memphis museums national civil rights

Image via Flickr – CC by 2.0Phil Scoville

The National Civil Rights Museum is one of Memphis’ most important places. Located at the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, this museum is steeped in history. Visitors learn about the civil rights movement through multi-media exhibits and historical artifacts, which provide an in-depth look at the struggles faced by the African American community. Designed with educational programs at the forefront, the National Civil Rights Museum provides visitors with firsthand accounts and truthful storytelling to convey the impact of this movement. Suitable for adults and children alike, the Civil Rights Museum features several distinct exhibitions to explore.

Beginning with permanent exhibits surrounding slavery in America between 1619 and 1861, the museum progresses by decade to provide a complete overview of the progression of the civil rights movement. Additional exhibitions highlight student sit-ins, the bus boycott in Montgomery, and the Jim Crow era of American history. Rotating exhibits are updated throughout the year, so make sure you check out which upcoming collections will be available before you book your flights to Memphis.

The museum is free for children under four years old, children from four to 17 years old pay an admission fee of $14, and adults pay a fee of $17; seniors receive a discounted rate of $15. If you’re an active-duty military member, you’re permitted to enter the Civil Rights Museum for free.

See How Elvis Presley Lived at Graceland

memphis museums graceland

Visit the home of Elvis Presley and learn more about The King’s journey at Graceland. During your trip, you’ll be granted access to the Graceland mansion where personal items and historical collections are on display. Visitors learn about the life of Elvis Presley and his rock n’ roll legacy while exploring the rooms where the King once resided. Perfect for music lovers, a trip to Graceland provides you with an in-depth look at the world of music production and what it takes to become one of the most famous musicians of all time. Exclusive VIP tours are available if you want to explore the Graceland property further.

The cost for admittance to Graceland is higher than other museums and typically costs $42 per adult and $38.25 for children between 13 and 18 years of age. Children under 13 years old are admitted for $21.75 and seniors are admitted for $38.25. If you plan on visiting Graceland with children under six, admission isn’t free.

You may also enjoy: Three Memphis Must-Dos for Every Elvis Fan

Comb the Collections at the Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art

Keeping with the themes of diversity and inclusivity, the Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art is an exciting and informative destination for visitors of all ages. Featuring over 1,400 objects, this immersive museum is the perfect place to spend a free afternoon when you’re on vacation in Memphis. Five permanent exhibitions are on display at the Belz Museum, including three Asian collections, one Judaic collection, and a Holocaust Memorial Gallery. Many of the items found in the Asian collection date back to the Qing Dynasty in China. The Judaic collection is comprised of contemporary pieces crafted by Israeli artists.

Docent-led tours and self-guided tours are available at the Belz Museum, so you and your group can decide in advance what type of experience you want. Admission to the museum is extremely affordable, which makes it the perfect destination when you’re looking for informative experiences on a limited budget. Adults are admitted to the Belz for $6 and students are admitted for $4. Any child under five years old is admitted for free, and seniors receive a discounted rate of $5 for admission.

Groove Around the Stax Museum of American Soul Music

memphis stax museum of american soul music

Image via Flickr – CC by 2.0Steve Snodgrass

Get your groove on at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. Featuring the Express Yourself dance floor and walls of classic albums, this museum is a one-of-a-kind destination. Discover the world of soul music through the eyes of the people who brought this era of artistic expression to life. Permanent exhibits include recording equipment and theater replicas that transport you to the 1950s when this style of music began to take a hold on the American public.

Emphasizing the importance of the legendary Stax recording studio that helped launch Otis Redding into the big leagues, this museum is a fun alternative to traditional museums. You and your group will be able to boogie to the sounds of some of the most popular musicians of the American Soul era while soaking up knowledge of how this wave of creation swept the nation. Entrance fees cost $13 per adult and $9 per child, making it an affordable and soulful stop on your educational tour of Memphis.

Brush up on Science and a Little Bit of Everything at the Pink Palace Museum

memphis museums pink palace

Image via Flickr – CC by 2.0Brandon Buckner

Learning is the name of the game at the Pink Palace Museum. Technically comprised of a group of museums, the Pink Palace focuses on science, nature, entertainment, and discovery. This family-friendly location is easily accessible and provides you with an entire day of knowledge and excitement. Included at the Pink Palace mansion are a planetarium, nature center, science center, and 3D theater for your exploration. The Pink Palace Museum features permanent exhibitions on the cultural and natural history of the Mid-South region.

Spend time gazing at a dome of stars or learning about the lifecycle of insects during your trip and emerge feeling refreshed and educated. The amount you spend on admission depends on the number of attractions you plan to see. For the exhibitions alone, admittance costs $15 per adult and $10 per child. For an all-inclusive experience, adults pay $30 each and children’s tickets are $21 each.

Unearth History at the Burkle Estate/the Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum

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Focused on the plight of African slaves who dreamt of escaping bondage, the Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum located on the Burkle Estate offers an educational experience unlike any other. Tours of the museum focus on the development of slavery in America and highlight how slaves fought for their freedom. Aided in their efforts by the Abolitionists, slaves were transported to safety through the Underground Railroad. Visitors have access to the cellars, trapdoors, and passages found on the Burkle Estate that comprised the Memphis portion of the Underground Railroad.

Providing visitors with a firsthand glimpse into the past, this profoundly engaging museum experience is one that cannot be missed. Whether you’re traveling with your partner, your children, or your friends, the immersion of this experience is meant to inform visitors of any age. Admission to the museum costs $12 per adult and $11 for children between the ages of four and 17. If your group is interested in embarking on a Heritage Tour, which includes admittance to the museum as well as tours of 30 different locations found throughout Memphis, additional fees apply.

What other museums in Memphis do you love? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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