Chartered in 1964, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum grew to become one of the largest museums and research centers devoted to collecting, preserving, and interpreting the evolving history and traditions of country music. The impressive building complex shaped like a bass clef houses a museum, and its massive collection of 2.5 million artifacts is displayed all over the two expansive floors of gallery space. Adding to the galleries is a 776-seat CMA Theater, the Taylor Swift Education Center, and multi-purpose event spaces.
But the main highlights in the museum are their exhibits. As of now, the Country Music Hall of Fame features on-property exhibits with permanent as well as limited-engagement displays. And to adapt to changing times, they also added in online exhibits that fans can interact with at the comfort of their own homes.
So, if you’re looking for a rather quick yet complete guide before you head on for an actual tour, then you’re in the right place! Let us take you to the paradise of country music fans to explore and enjoy the exhibits together.
Sing Me Back Home: Folk Roots to the Present
MAY 17, 2001 – JANUARY 18, 2038
The core exhibit of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Sing Me Back Home: Folk Roots to the Present, is an immersive, multi-layered journey of the sounds of country music as well as the voices and the lives of its numerous honored personalities.
It’s a celebration of country music’s pre-commercial roots way back in the 19th century as it evolved to the vibrant genre that it is today. And to make the experience even better for fans, the museum threw in original recordings, archival video, newly produced films, touchscreen interactive media on top of the usual artifacts and photographs. These are all arranged in chronological order to give you a glimpse of each era of country music.
A bit of spoiler to excite you even more, you’ll see in this exhibit Elvis Presley’s solid gold Cadillac limo, Jimmie Rodgers’ guitar, Ray Price’s costumes, Kenny Rogers’ collection, and of course, new artifacts from this generation’s hottest stars just like Jason Aldean, Taylor Swift, The Band Perry, and more.
Outlaws & Armadillos: Country’s Roaring ’70s
MAY 25, 2018 – JUNE 5, 2022
Every country music fan knows the names of Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Jessi Colter, Bobby Bare, Jerry Jeff Walker, David Allan Coe, Cowboy Jack Clement, Tom T. Hall, Billy Joe Shaver, Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, and Tompall Glaser. Forty years ago, these musicians started a musical revolution that cemented them in the genre and also went on to influence the genre far beyond their time. And fans can relive this ‘outlaw era’ through Outlaws & Armadillos: Country’s Roaring ’70s.
This major exhibit explores the cultural and artistic exchange between the renegade artists of Nashville, Tennessee, and the strain-blending musicians of Austin, Texas, as well as their surprisingly complicated relationship. It also offers an unprecedented look at the architects of this genre-changing music, of their untold struggles, and their wins that made country music what it is now.
And new on the exhibit is the workshop of the lauded songwriter Guy Clark. It’s complete with his cassette wall and his handmade workbench that will truly inspire everyone who walks through it with his work ethic, artistry, and craftsmanship.
Kacey Musgraves: All Of The Colors
JULY 2, 2019 – APRIL 3, 2022
Kacey Musgraves has undeniably established her name as one of the genre’s creative geniuses, and her album Golden Hour is one of the living proofs of that. This critically-acclaimed album was so well-curated that it was honored as the 2019 Grammys Album of the Year. On top of that honor, it was only the fourth country collection that was able to accomplish the feat.
And Country Music Hall of Fame’s spotlight exhibit Kacey Musgraves: All Of The Colors aptly reflects that genius. The exhibit pays homage to Musgrave’s country upbringing and her path towards international stardom with hand-picked artifacts from childhood keepsakes, song manuscripts, and stage costumes.
Among the highlights of her exhibit include the tip jar she used when she went yodeling with Tatum as Texas Two Bits, a detention notice she received back in high school, the manuscripts for “Fallin'” which she co-wrote with Miranda Lambert, and “Slow Burn” which she wrote herself and was part of her album Golden Hour, and two of her ensembles she wore during the 2014 Grammy Awards and the 2018 CMA Awards.
The Station Inn: Bluegrass Beacon
JANUARY 15, 2021 – JANUARY 2, 2022
Nashville’s music club, The Station Inn, was founded in 1974 by a group of bluegrass singers and musicians – Bob and Ingrid Fowler, Marty and Charmaine Lanham, Jim Bornstein, and Red and Bird Lee Smith – became home to a thriving local bluegrass scene. Through the years, the club transformed from being a venue where musicians and fans gather to play and hear bluegrass music to a community where they celebrate that music.
In The Station Inn: Bluegrass Beacon, the Country Music Hall of Fame retells the story of the famous and venerated Nashville music club and its legacy in the genre. Showcased here are Flatt & Scruggs’ tour bus seats, Tammy Rogers’ fiddle, Mike Compton’s 1927 Gibson A-Jr. model mandolin, Mike Bub’s Kay M-1 double bass, and many more.
The Station Inn is now located at 402 12th Ave. S. and is owned by Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame member JT Gray. He envisions it as a venue that will inspire local artistry and draw national recording acts.
American Currents: State of the Music
MARCH 12, 2021 – FEBRUARY 6, 2022
American Currents: State of the Music is an annual exhibition by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum that is focused on exploring the most significant music and events that helped influence and shape country music over the previous year. And among the 24 recognized artists whose works continued to empower country music amid the global health crisis last 2020 are Dolly Parton, Jimmie Allen, Luke Combs, Eric Church, Mickey Guyton, Gabby Barrett, Ashley McBryde, and The Chicks.
Aside from that, this exhibit also includes an Unbroken Circle section pairing artists who illustrate the connection between country music’s past and present, as well as a video compilation of the important country music moments from 2020. And lastly, it showcases the chart-topping country albums, singles, and highest-grossing tours as reported by Billboard and Pollstar.
While this is an on-property exhibit, you can access a virtual view of it through the program American Currents: Celebrating the State of the Music featuring Luke Combs, Rissi Palmer, Billy Strings, and Vince Gill.
Martina McBride: The Power of Her Voice
JULY 30, 2021 – AUGUST 7, 2022
In her spotlight exhibit Martina McBride: The Power of Her Voice, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum shares the singer’s decades-long journey and her legacy as an influential vocalist.
Known for her powerful, substantive, and socially aware hits, no one can argue that Martina McBride belongs to the circle of iconic female country music artists just like her forerunners Lina Ronstadt, Reba McEntire, and Connie Smith. Her songs became anthems of women empowerment and also addressed the long-running challenges that women face in the industry, and gave the genre a different perspective.
The exhibit also makes a memorable mark as Martina McBride celebrates her thirtieth year as a recording artist next year and the success that grew from the ground that many artists wouldn’t dare touch. The singer herself handpicked the items on display, which include Martina’s first record released on her own label when she was still in high school, as well as a variety of costume ensembles she has worn in performances through the years.
Suiting the Sound: The Rodeo Tailors Who Made Country Stars Shine Brighter
Back when the sound systems were so lousy that the music could not be heard, the surest way to command the audience’s attention was through clothes. And with that, clothes that loudly blaze with vibrant colors and sparkling with rhinestones were born. Soon enough, this flashy cowboy-inspired stage attire became the signature look of many singers and created an indelible image for country music fashion.
And through the online exhibit drawn from the extensive collection of stage costumes and archival materials of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, fans can also experience the dazzling artistry and couture of that era. It also introduces the story of immigrants who embraced America’s fascination with cowboy culture and Western imagery and built a successful path for themselves.
Suiting the Sound: The Rodeo Tailors Who Made Country Stars Shine Brighter has eight parts starting from Coming to America, wherein fans are introduced to the most influential of the pioneering rodeo tailors and ending with the Rhinestone Resurrection, which showcased a new breed of bespoke Western-wear designers.
Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City
Back in the 1960s, Nashville was generally seen by many as a conservative, backwater town, who was removed from the main trends of popular music. But thanks to Bob Dylan’s appearance in Nashville to record, opinions about the city soon changed and inspired many other non-country acts to come and avail themselves of the skill, creativity, and virtuosity of the city’s musicians.
Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City celebrates that immeasurable impact of Bob Dylan in the genre as well as the roles of Johnny Cash’s groundbreaking TV show and the ace musicians known as the “Nashville Cats” in creating a new music city.
The online exhibit starts with the introduction of Bob Dylan and his arrival in Nashville, followed by Johnny Cash and the Nashville Cats. Then the musical and cultural cross-pollination that led to the establishment of Nashville as a new music city, and lastly, it ends with the influences of today.
Bill Anderson: As Far As I Can See
DECEMBER 3, 2021 – MARCH 19, 2023
Opening this coming December 3 is Whisperin’ Bill’s spotlight exhibit titled Bill Anderson: As Far As I Can See. This is to honor the singer-songwriter who is one of the most prolific and preeminent American artists and songsmiths across all genres, his decades-long career, and his enduring legacy in country music.
In support of the opening, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum will host two public programs on December 4, 2021. The first one is the Songwriter Session, wherein they invited Anderson’s songwriting collaborators Erin Enderlin, Buddy Canon, and Bobby Tomberlin to share the stories behind the songs they co-wrote with him. And the second one is a sit-down, one-on-one interview with Bill Anderson followed by a brief performance. You can reserve and purchase the event tickets here.
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is located at 222 Rep. John Lewis Way S Nashville, Tennessee. Museum members can get in free to view the exhibit, but if you’re not, you can purchase your ticket for $27.95 and $17.95 for anyone aged 6 years old until 12 years old.
Country Music Hall of Fame