Memphis Arts are are surprisingly strong for a mid-side metro area. Cannon Center for the Performing Arts, Rock n Soul Museum, Brooks Museum of Art, Pyramid Arena, Orpheum Theater, Center for Southern Folklore, New Daisy Theatre, Mud Island Amphitheatre and more to tickle your fancy.
Rock n’ Soul Museum
DESCRIPTION: Began as a Smithsonian Institution traveling research project to uncover and showcase the roots of American music, it was founded in the same building as the Gibson Guitar Factory in 2000, before moving to this location in 2004. Take a 2-hour tour of Smithsonian exhibit of the musical and cultural history of Memphis and the Mississippi Delta. It may well be the most comprehensive look at the roots of the music we celebrate today. Of critical importance among the museum’s exhibits is its coverage of the many musicians, radio stations and businessmen who broke segregation barriers that permeated society in the 1960s and earlier, while furthering the Blues, then creating Rock n’ Roll and Soul Music.
ADMISSION: $10 Adults, $7 Ages 5-17, Ages 4 and under enter Free
DAYS & HOURS: daily 10a-7p
ADDRESS: 191 Beale Street, Memphis, TN MAP
Center for Southern Folklore
DESCRIPTION: This cultural documents the history and traditions of the South, both good and bad; history buffs will like the exhibits which showcases some of the best music, books, folk art and photography. The multimedia archives uncover more insights on this captivating slice of Americana. Performance Hall hosts small concerts performed by Blues, Rockabilly, Jazz, Soul, Roots, Hip-Hop and Gospel artists. The Folklore Store will well stocked for avid gift shoppers. The Center also sponsors the hugely popular Memphis Music & Heritage Festival and is a Folklore factory incubator to help create new businesses for local artists of all stripes, so the vibe can only be positive and creative.
ADMISSION: varies by event
DAYS & HOURS: Mon-Wed 10a-10p, Thu-Sat 10a-11p, Sun 10a-5p; winter hours are shorter
ADDRESS: 119 South Main Street, Memphis, TN MAP
DESCRIPTION: European American owner, Sam Phillips, deserves recognition for being the first record label to record a Rock & Roll song, Jackie Brenston’s Rocket 88 in 1951 arranged by Ike Turner. B.B. King, Howlin Wolf, Little Milton, Rufus Thomas, Charlie Pride, and Ike Turner all got their big break here as recording artists. Today, the museum caters mostly to its European American market, emphasizing the careers of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis who brought in the big bucks. Tour this functioning recording studio with lots of memorabilia and a gift shop.
ADMISSION: Age 12+ $12, Age 5-11 enter Free, Age 4 and under are not permitted
DAYS & HOURS: daily 10a-6p
ADDRESS: 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN MAP
Brooks Museum of Art
DESCRIPTION: The Brooks houses an excellent collection of fine art from around the world dating from antiquity to present, and addressing numerous cultures. One area of note is the award-winning permanent “Art of Africa” exhibit that features over 20 works worthy of the Smithsonian Museum. Docent tours are available.
ADMISSION:Yes, but free on Wednesday
DAYS & HOURS: Tue, Thu & Fri 9a-4p, Sat 9a-5p, Sun 10a-5p
ADDRESS: 1934 Poplar Avenue, Memphis, TN MAP
University of Memphis Art Museum
DESCRIPTION: One of America’s most notable and authentic Egyptian artifacts collection, some date as early as the pre-Dynastic period (4000-3200 BC). It includes a permanent collection of West African masks. The museum is located on the north side of campus, near parking.
DAYS & HOURS: Mon-Sat 9a-5p
ADDRESS: 3750 Norriswood, Memphis, TN MAP
Memphis Pink Palace Museum
DESCRIPTION: Pink Palace features the beautiful Pink Palace Mansion, a planetarium and natural and cultural history exhibits, including hand-carved miniature circus. Typical of the museum’s broader outreach these days, traveling exhibits about the Black sororities, and historic Black Memphians are part of the touring exhibits.
ADMISSION: varies depending on event
DAYS & HOURS: Mon-Thu 9a-4p, Fri-Sat 9-9, Sun 12a-6p
ADDRESS: 3050 Central Avenue, Memphis, TN MAP
National Ornamental Metal Museum
DESCRIPTION: Founded in 1979 and located on a 3-acre site overlooking the Mississippi River south of downtown, it is only institution in the U.S. devoted to the preservation and promotion of fine metalwork. See works of ornamental art, see artists work, learn the art craft. The museum offers various education programs ranging from public demonstrations to middle and high school programs to blacksmithing and casting.
ADMISSION: Adults $5, Age 62+ $4, Students w/ID and Ages 5-18 $3, Age 4 and under enter Free
DAYS & HOURS: Tue-Sat 10a-5p, Sun Noon-5p
ADDRESS: 374 Metal Museum Drive, Memphis, TN MAP
Cannon Center for the Performing Arts
DESCRIPTION: After a large expansion and renovation, this arts venue received great acoustical and sightline upgrades. The 2,100-seat venue is home for the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, ballet, opera, pop, comedy and jazz concerts, touring theatrical productions, and children’s theater. The Cannon Center is adjacent to Memphis Cook Convention Center.
BOX OFFICE: Mon-Fri Noon-5p and on show days
ADDRESS: 255 North Main Street, Memphis, TN MAP
PARKING: garages and lots nearby
PHONE: tickets 901-576-1269 or 901-576-1200
DESCRIPTION: If only visually, feel the power of the pyramid in this unique 32 story arena and former home court for University of Memphis basketball team. Built in 1991, tour the Pyramid’s 20,142-seat interior is used primarily for concerts and religious events and there’s still speculation about its future use. A dramatic stone replica of the King Ramesses II statue stands in front.
DAYS & HOURS: tours Mon-Sat 10a-5p
ADDRESS: Pyramid Arena, Memphis, TN MAP
PARKING: garages and lots on premises
Center for Southern Folklore
DESCRIPTION: Managed by an organization with a loaded mission to preserve defend and protect the music, culture, arts, and rhythms of the South”, they provide a stage for art, music and culture in Folklore Hall. The 4 other stages host small neo-soul, country, funk, jazz, blues, pop, poetry and surprise guest visitors. The Cooking Stage showcases regional chefs who making everything from ribs to peach cobbler to Chinese salads. They also sponsor the outstanding Memphis Music & Heritage Festival each September. The Folklore Store features an great gift selection too.
BOX OFFICE: Folklore store Mon-Fri 8a-5p; Sat 11a-6p
ADDRESS: 119 South Main Street, Memphis, TN MAP
PARKING: garages and lots on Gayoso and Peabody Place
DESCRIPTION: Built in 1928 on the site of another theatre it rings with opulence. The tasseled brocade draperies, crystal chandeliers, gilded moldings and a Wurlitzer pipe organ are just a few of its new amenities common to the great Vaudeville Era. As Vaudeville’s popularity waned, live performances at the Orpheum declined and was purchased by a movie theater chain in 1940. It ran movies until 1976. With the growth of suburban malls and cineplexes, it was nearly demolished, then in 1977 the Memphis Development Foundation purchased The Orpheum and began bringing Broadway Productions and concerts back. From 1982-84 it was renovated to its grand 1928 opulence. Since then, Broadway productions, Johnny Mathis, Gladys Knight, Kenny G, Chuck Mangione, Patti LaBelle and too many others to name have performed here. Ballet Memphis and Opera Memphis, also call the Orpheum home.
BOX OFFICE: Mon-Fri 9a-5p
ADDRESS: 203 South Main Street, Memphis, TN MAP
PARKING: garages and paid lots nearby
New Daisy Theatre
DESCRIPTION: Constructed in the 1940s, when Beale Street needed a fancier a venue for Blues concerts. It has hosted BB King, Rufus Thomas, Bobby Blues Bland and so many others. Call for calendar of events.
BOX OFFICE: Mon-Fri 10a-6p, Sat Noon-6p and later for showtimes
ADDRESS: 330 Beale Street, Memphis, TN MAP
PARKING: garage nearby
PHONE: 901-525-8981 or 8979
Mud Island Amphitheatre
DESCRIPTION: Seats 5,000 seats along the bank of the island from a stage set near the Mississippi River. Entertainers perform on the stage with stars overhead, nighttime breezes off the river, and the downtown Memphis skyline in the background. No outside coolers or beverages should be brought into the event.
BOX OFFICE: Tue-Sun 10a-4p and later for showtimes
ADDRESS: 125 North Front Street, Memphis, TN MAP
PARKING: paid lots and garage nearby