Tennessee State Museum
If you are used to the flashy multimedia exhibits found in many of today’s top museums, the Tennessee State Museum (5th Ave., 615/741-2692, www.tnmuseum.org, Tues.–Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sun. 1–5 p.m., free) will seem like a musty throwback to the past.
The displays are largely straightforward combinations of text and images, and they require visitors to read and examine on their own. There are but a few video presentations. But for patrons with enough patience to give the displays their due, the museum offers an excellent overview of Tennessee history from the Native Americans to the New South era of the 1880s.
Exhibits detail the state’s political development, the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and profile famous Tennesseans including Andrew Jackson and Davy Crocket. They also cast a spotlight on the lifestyles and diversions of Tennesseans of various eras, from the early frontiersmen and -women to a free African-American family before emancipation. Special artifacts include the top hat worn by Andrew Jackson at his presidential inauguration, a musket that belonged to Daniel Boone, and the jaw bone of a mastodon.
The Tennessee Military Museum (Legislative Plaza, 615/741-2692, Tues.–Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., free) is associated with the Tennessee State Museum and highlights America’s overseas conflicts, beginning with the Spanish-American War in 1989 and ending with World War II. The exhibits examine the beginnings of the wars, major battles, and the outcomes. There is a special exhibit about Alvin C. York, the Tennessee native and World War I hero. The military museum is located in the War Memorial Building on the south side of the Capitol.
© Susanna Henighan Potter from Moon Tennessee, 5th Edition