Museums have come a long way since annual class trips to gawk at “do not touch” exhibitions hung behind velvet ropes. One such museum is Nashville’s National Museum of African American Music, which opened earlier this year. Dubbed “Music City,” Nashville is often branded as the birthplace of American country music. But NMAAM shows the city embracing other musical roots. Located inside the galleria-sized mixed-use Fifth + Broadway development, the 55,000-square-foot facility has seven galleries of interactive exhibitions, artifacts, and artist memorabilia centered around the connection between African and American music.
An immersive film experience in the Roots Theater introduces the plight of Africans during and after slavery, and how their influences transformed into fundamental music genres such as jazz. Interactive panels with timelines allow visitors to experience 400 years of a storied socio-political and musical past, from plantation spirituals to today’s hip hop. In the Love Supreme gallery, guests can “compose” their own jazz song from notes embedded into a console. You can also browse more than 1,500 artifacts (such as a guitar owned by B.B. King and Ella Fitzgerald’s GRAMMY awards) and watch vintage concert footage of iconic legends like James Brown and Prince.
National Museum of African American Music, 510 Broadway, Nashville, (615) 301-8724