For roughly a decade, the museum has been inviting curious rockers and the occasional roller to take a stroll through a musically guided journey through time. What started as an exhibit at the Smithsonian quickly took on a life of its own, developing into an independent museum commemorating the hoots and hollers of a genre. The historical galleries begin at the literal grassroots of the movement, chronicling the field music sung by rural agricultural workers. The galleries continue through the seventies, where a great deal of soul came into the mix and things really started to take off. In between, learn about the iconic label Sun Records, tips on growing a gnarly rock-n-soul beard, and how the music influenced an entire generation during the civil rights revolution.
As the oldest fine-arts museum in Tennessee, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art schools whippersnapper galleries with breathtaking batches of permanent visual works, as well as traveling showcases from around the globe. With a dual membership, a husband/wife, brother/sister, or Tango/Cash team can delve into the museum’s permanent collection— featuring a potpourri of pieces from artists including Renoir and renowned modernist Nancy Graves—as well as rotating exhibitions that highlight niche fields and master creators. The bounty of membership benefits also includes discounts at the museum store and Brushmark Restaurant, sending art apostles away with full minds, bellies, and shopping bags.
Founded by Jack Belz (chairman and CEO of Belz Enterprises) and Marilyn Belz, the Belz Museum of Asian & Judaic Art has displayed its collection of paintings, sculptures, textiles, and more from Asian and Judaic artisans since 1998, when it was originally called the Peabody Place Museum. Old-school art lovers can spend hours perusing Belz's collection of pieces from the Chinese Qing and other dynasties, including a 19th-century scene intricately carved in ivory tusk, or studying elaborate pottery from the Han dynasty. In addition to the four admissions, the deal also includes four collection catalogs ($6 each), so exhibition scrutinizers can study up on the museum's collections.
Cedar Hill Farm Paintball Park arms its guests with a gun, an air tank, a face mask, a 200-round hopper, and 500 rounds of splattering ammunition to defend humanity against the sinister forces of boredom. Sporting seven separate courses over 14 acres of park, Cedar Hill can accommodate large-scale battles and special-forces strikes in the Woods, Ambush, or Bunker Hill courses, and anyone looking for high-frequency action can test their trigger fingers on one of the farm’s speedball courses. Because war has no rules, except for a few necessary ones for safety, battle pacing and game types are left up to the players themselves, though Cedar Hill estimates that players can clean out their clips in two or three hours and are happy to suggest favorite scenarios for squads who’ve come up short.
Dedicated to the legendary train engineer, Casey Jones Village features shops, attractions, and a museum rife with artifacts and anecdotes about Jackson's railroad history. Three authentic railcars are displayed prominently as mainstays from a different era, and children are encouraged to climb up on the engine and ring the train bell. A short film detailing the life of Casey Jones plays in the museum's theater, and a children's area entreats kids with wooden train sets so they can imagine they're piloting the first locomotive to shoot missiles at Saturn. After viewing the museum's offerings, guests can engage in other village attractions, such as mini golf, woodcarving demonstrations, and traditional treats at the antique-laden Brooke Shaw's Old Country Store. Before leaving, visitors can nosh on old-fashioned milk shakes and ice-cream sodas at the 1890s-inspired Ice Cream Parlor and Fudge Shoppe, voted one of the best 50 ice-cream parlors in the country by USA Today.
The International Rock-A-Billy Hall of Fame entertains and informs music buffs with one of the genre's only existing video libraries, along with 16 life-size oil paintings and scores of rock relics. Tour guide Henry Harrison schools guests on rockabilly music's greatest entertainers, revealing quirky facts and long-division problems that lend insight into the lives of luminaries such as Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and others. Listen as pompadoured performers tell tales of making music history through the hall of fame's video library, or view vibrant portraits of legends such as Sam Phillips and Shelby Singleton, the only owners of historic Sun Records. Peruse obscure artifacts from concerts and stage costumes, or model next year's yard display after the museum's Christmas-themed replica of Graceland. In addition to its interior exhibits, the Rock-A-Billy Hall of Fame boasts vibrant exterior murals depicting Perkins and his original band, Sir Paul McCartney, and unruly mobs of teenagers trying to request the stars' e-mail addresses.
The interactive exhibits and programs compiled by the Pink Palace Family of Museums reinforce a mission that has stayed constant for 80 years: to "inspire people to learn how history, science, technology, and nature shape the Mid-South." Attached to Clarence Saunders' mansion built in the 1920s, the museum's permanent exhibits take an eclectic approach to chronicling the past, revealing everything from ancient fossils to contemporary southern history. Inside, visitors can chart the history of Memphis from the early Spanish explorers through the Civil War or walk through a replica of Saunders' original Piggly Wiggly—the country’s first self-service grocery store, and even see a shrunken head. Global adventures are chronicled on a four-story screen at the CTI-IMAX theater, and the Sharpe Planetarium explores the cosmos from the comfort of a 130-seat theater.
Traveling to east Memphis, one can discern the natural side of the Pink Palace Family of Museums. Lichterman Nature Center encompasses 65 acres of lush gardens filled with native wildflowers, trees, and wildlife. The center combines self-guided nature walks with plant sales and educational activities to expose visitors to the natural world.