Country Music Hall of Fame
The distinctive design of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum (222 5th Ave. S., 615/416-2001, www.countrymusichalloffame.com, daily 9 a.m.–5 p.m., $15.95–19.95) is the first thing you will notice about this monument to country music. Vertical windows at the front and back of the building resemble piano keys; the sweeping arch on the right side of the building portrays a 1950s Cadillac fin; and from above, the building resembles a bass clef.
The Country Music Hall of Fame was first established in 1967, and its first inductees were Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams, and Fred Rose. The original Hall was located on Music Row, but in 2002 it moved to this brand-new signature building two blocks off Broadway in downtown Nashville.
Country music fans are drawn by the carload to the Country Music Hall of Fame, where they can pay homage to country’s greatest stars, as well as the lesser-known men and women who influenced the music. The hall’s slogan is “Honor Thy Music.”
The museum is arranged chronologically, beginning with country’s roots in the Scotch-Irish ballads sung by the southern mountains’ first settlers, and ending with displays on some of the genre’s hottest stars of today. In between, exhibits detail themes including the rise of bluegrass, honky tonk, and the world-famous Nashville Sound, which introduced country music to the world.
The Country Music Hall of Fame has a half-dozen private listening booths where you can hear studio-quality recordings of seminal performances, as well as a special display of a few of the genre’s most famous instruments. Here you can see Bill Monroe’s mandolin, Maybelle Carter’s Gibson, and Johnny Cash’s Martin D-355.
If you are truly interested in learning something about country music while you’re here, splurge on the $5 audio guide, which adds depth to the exhibits and helps to drown out distractions caused by your fellow museumgoers.
The Country Music Hall of Fame itself is set in a rotunda. Brass plaques honor the 100 inductees, and around the room are the words “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” from the hymn made famous by the Carter Family.
© Susanna Henighan Potter from Moon Tennessee, 5th Edition