Due to COVID-19, check with the organization’s website for updates.
The new National Museum of African American Music has hit the city with a bang. Twenty-plus years in the making, it shares the historical significance African Americans have played in music over the last 400 years. This museum is what Nashville needs, providing a welcome addition to the tourist destination, we know as Broadway. Situated right in the heart of downtown, you have a chance to enter the heart of American music starting from the past to present through seven interactive and striking galleries that will make a music lover out of anyone. Check out our guide to experiencing Nashville’s must-see cultural attraction.
Designed by an African American father-daughter architect duo, Harold and Andrianna Thompson, the 56,000 square foot building is stunning and provides a whole new vibe to the Broadway corridor. The intentionality, once you enter, is also very evident, from the vast music memorabilia on the walls to the smart wristband you receive before entering. There is a chip inside that will allow you to take home your experience from the music, videos to rap battles and sing-alongs for you to enjoy even after your visit.
When to visit
The museum made its debut during COVID, making its guidelines robust to ensure your safety is prioritized but your fun is limitless. For those wanting a more chill experience, you may want to plan your visit during a weekday, ideally Tuesday – Thursday. Interested in connecting with more people, the weekend it is. As a note, the Museum is closed on Mondays. Tours are timed and run every half-hour until 4:30, as a full tour duration is 90 minutes.
The Exhibits To Check Out
Rivers of Rhythm
After viewing an orientation film in their beautiful theatre (think Disney when you are headed into one of those cool rides), you are led through to the Rivers of Rhythm. This is the pathway that takes you through the historical roots of African American music, spanning blues, gospel, R&B, jazz, country to hip-hop. The entry to the museum itself is so significant with architecture design representing water, correlating the journey you are about to embark on. The exhibits are arranged chronologically, providing you an opportunity to be truly immersed in the various genres of that time.
The Rap Battle
Get ready to freestyle your favorite hip-hop song or make it a battle in the booth. This interactive feature is definitely one for the books that may leave you in one place for a minute as it can be addictive. It is also one of the interactive components that will reinforce NMAAM’s vision that we can all come together for the love of music – One Nation Under A Groove.
Wade in the Water
This interactive exhibit is definitely one for the books. Gospel music is at the heart of the African American family and you will have a chance to sing with an award-winning choir through the vision of Dr. Bobby Jones. You will literally have your breath taken away as you belt out gospel songs that feed your soul. Plus, you can take this memory with you at the end of your visit. Again, the world-class technology in this space is off the charts.
Create your own playlist
In each of the galleries, you have an opportunity to create your own playlist to enjoy and vibe to. You can scroll through an extensive library of what seems like every song produced to create a playlist just for you.
Where to Eat
Of course, after any day out, the next question is always “Where are we going to eat”? You will definitely have several places to choose including Broadway’s first African American-owned restaurant, Slim + Husky’s. Prince’s Hot Chicken, the birthplace of our city’s famous dish is also within walking distance. The new Fifth + Broadway entertainment center also boasts a huge Food Assembly Hall with many cuisines to choose from.
To get more guides and stories of the people behind the culture and soul of Nashville, subscribe to our weekly newsletter HERE.