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.
Metal Museum celebrates the centuries-long tradition of metalwork with exhibits, restoration, and classes. Its exhibitions include in-depth looks at contemporary knife making, kinetic sculpture that imitates the mechanics of the solar system, and solo collections by prominent artists. The museum even gives folks a glimpse into the process by showcasing professional blacksmiths at work. Visitors who are inspired by the fine and intricate lines in a metal sculpture can take a class on metalworking and hone their skills in the on-site foundry. The museum also regularly honors working artists and trains young people to work with diverse materials including hollowware, jewelry, and enameling. Every year, a three-day fundraiser gives folks the chance to have professional artists repair their metal items and see demonstrations by artists from around the country.
Catering to the mid- to mid-mid-life needs of 21- to 40-year-olds, Bravo presents its members with complimentary admission to a dynamic schedule of arts-oriented events featuring an array of artistic media, from photography to live music. Enjoy private tours of unique cultural destinations such as the Stax Museum of American Soul Music (November 10), as well as cinematic and theatrical affairs such as a screening of Trouble Man, accompanied by a live performance of Marvin Gaye's soundtrack (December 10) and an operatic adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream (January 20). In addition to their artistic content, many Bravo events also include complimentary hors d'oeuvres, drinks, and other perks usually available only to Burton Gilliam and members of the Illuminati.
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.