Nashville Culture: Gaylord Resorts and Taylor Swift's Crystal Guitar

1.28.2014

By Daniel Reynolds

Our further explorations of Nashville uncover music museums, art walks, and 19th century divas.

Nashville is not your typical Southern city. A cosmopolitan air blows through its honky-tonks, watering holes, and, especially, cultural institutions; you can't swing a guitar without hitting a museum, gallery, or historic hotel. If you come to Music City with hopes of living like Hayden Panettiere's glamourous Nashville character, you can easily do that, and you can drink and party like you're in Austin, as well. But if you want to really understand Nashville, country music, and the South, check out these places that simply can't be found anywhere else:

Museums - Music

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
countrymusichalloffame.org
For lovers of country music, the crown jewel of museums is the Country Music Hall of Fame. Located in the heart of downtown Nashville, this 40,000 square-foot institution has compiled over two centuries worth of artifacts related to the genre and its artists, including memorabilia that ranges from Elvis Presley’s piano to Taylor Swift’s crystal-studded guitar. Be sure to stop by Hatch Show Print, one of the oldest letterprint houses in the United States, which continues to make and sell posters from concerts by Johnny Cash to present-day artists like Clay Aiken. 615-416-2001, 222 5th Avenue South

Historic RCA Studio B
countrymusichalloffame.org/studiob
The majority of Elvis Presley’s hits were first sung at RCA Studio B, a world-renowned recording space that offers daily tours in conjunction with the Country Music Hall of Fame. Legends like the Everly Brothers, Don Gibson, and Dottie West also recorded songs here, as well as Dolly Parton, who crooned “I Will Always Love You” in this historic space. 800-852-6437, 1611 Roy Acuff Place

Johnny Cash Museum
johnnycashmuseum.com
The newly constructed Johnny Cash Museum is a must-see for fans of “The Man in Black.” The 18,000-square-foot museum contains personal items, multimedia display, and interactive exhibitions that explain the life and loves of one of country’s most famous stars. 615-256-1777, 119 Third Avenue South

Museums - Art

Alan LeQuire Gallery
lequiregallery.com
Alan LeQuire is a prominent artist who has had a major influence in Tennessee, the South, and beyond. His many works include a sculpture of Jack Daniels on the grounds of the historic distillery, a controversial 40-foot tall sculpture of nine naked revelers in the center of Nashville, and a 42-foot-tall reconstruction of the goddess Athena in the city’s Parthenon. LeQuire’s studio, where many of his work are on display, is open to the public, with the artist himself frequently in residence. 615-298-4611, 4304 Charlotte Avenue

Frist Center for the Visual Arts
fristcenter.org
Renovated from a historic post office to a museum with its art deco interior intact, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts is a gorgeous 24.000-square-foot facility with world-class exhibitions that rotate every six to eight weeks. Norman Rockwell, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Goya are just a few of the diverse artists on display in 2014. 615-244-3340, 919 Broadway

5th Avenue Art District
facebook.com/pages/5th-Avenue-of-the-Arts-Downtown-Nashville
Nashville’s art scene has ballooned in recent years, and the impact is evident by the vibrant row of galleries along 5th Avenue. Venues like the TAG Art Gallery, the Tennessee Art League, The Arts Company, and more offer an exciting display of local and visiting artists, which are best viewed during the First Saturday Gallery Crawl alongside the patrons, hipsters, and artists of the downtown scene. 5th Avenue of the Arts

Historical Sites, Museums, and Monuments

Tennessee State Museum
nmuseum.org
One of the finest museums in Nashville is free of charge. From settlement by Native Americans to present day, the Tennessee State Museum contains 120,000 square-feet of artifacts and displays that depict the region’s history of human habitation spread across three floors of space. The Civil War and Andrew Jackson collections are particular highlights, and a sizable portion of the museum is devoted to changing exhibitions that often include music history and culture. 615-741-2692, 505 Deaderick Street

Belmont Mansion
belmontmansion.com
Constructed in the mid-19th century, Belmont Mansion was once home to Adelcia Acklen, a colorful figure reminiscent of the character Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With The Wind, who weathered the Civil War and three husbands. She died, ironically, during a shopping spree in New York City. The house is located on the grounds of Belmont College and includes many historical artifacts that belonged to Acklen and her family. 615-460-5459, 1700 Acklen Avenue

The Hermitage Hotel
thehermitagehotel.com
Built in 1905, Tennessee’s only five-star and five-diamond hotel boasts a rich history -– it was once a meeting place for members of the suffrage moment as well as the site of a national radio show. Even its name is a nod to Andrew Jackson, whose homestead was dubbed The Hermitage. The Capitol Grille restaurant, formerly a men's club located in the hotel’s basement, has many signature touches that exhibit this heritage, including a mint-green vintage men’s bathroom that attracts history-seeking patrons of all genders. 615-244-3121, 231 6th Avenue North

The Parthenon
nashville.gov/Parks-and-Recreation/Parthenon.aspx
One of Nashville’s most fascinating monuments is The Parthenon, an actual reproduction of the Ancient Grecian building that was constructed for the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition. As the last remaining structure from this fair, The Parthenon houses many artifacts and photographs of this celebration, which marked Tennessee’s 100-year anniversary as part of the United States. A breath-taking 42-foot gold reproduction of  the goddess Athena, built by local artist Alan LeQuire, is also housed in this venue located in the heart of Centennial Park. 615-862-8431, 2500 West End Avenue

Must-See Attractions

Grand Ole Opry
opry.com
It’s not a trip to Nashville without a seat at the Grand Ole Opry, the nation’s longest-running live radio show that has debuted and fostered some of the most prominent names in country music. Today, musicians both young and old, from Keith Urban to Martina McBride, grace the stage of the newly constructed Grand Ole Opry House from February to October. Or catch the show from November to January at its famous home, the Ryman Theatre (116 5th Ave North, 615-889-3060, ryman.com), where Johnny Cash first met June Carter (The Rockettes perform at the Grand Ole Opy House during this time). Behind-the-curtain tours are available at both locations throughout the year. 615-871-6779, 2804 Opryland Drive

Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center
marriott.com/hotels/travel/bnago-gaylord-opryland
For those traveling in large groups, the Gaylord Opryland Resort may be an ideal place to book a stay in Nashville. Even solo tourists may want to stop by to gawk at this wonder of modern Marriotts, which includes nine acres of gardens, restaurants, bars, spas, and more. The Resort is adjacent to many major attractions as well, including The Grand Ole Opry House, home to the Grand Ole Opry and, during the holiday season, The Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring The Rockettes. A neighborhood facility also houses the seasonal show ICE!, in which artisans craft over two million pounds of ice into a winter wonderland of frosty sculptures and slides. And don’t miss a ride on the General Jackson Showboat (generaljackson.com), a boat cruise down Cumberland River that features delicious dining and musical entertainment throughout the year. 615-889-1000, 2800 Opryland Drive

Shopping
An intersection of roads marks the appropriately named Five Points (11th Street and Woodland Street), a bustling neighborhood of East Nashville that boasts a variety of shops including The Groove (thegroovenashville.com), a groovy record shop. On the other side of town, the 12th South district (12th Avenue South, between Wedgewood Avenue and Gale Lane, 12South.org) also boasts a number of great shops such as Corner Music (cornermusic.com), the Frothy Monkey Coffeehouse (frothymonkeynashville.com), Art&Soul (eartandsoul.com), and Imogene + Willie (www.imogeneandwillie.com), a clothing store that will tailor jeans to customers’ sizes.

Tags: Nashville
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