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Best Local History & Culture in Memphis

By: Cityseeker
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Mississippi River Museum

For an educational outing and a dose of local culture, visit the Mississippi River Museum. The exhibits here cover 10,000 years of history of the Lower Mississippi River, making for a unique mix of exhibits. Artifacts shown range from Native American tools and pottery to Victorian furniture and 20th Century instruments. It's a great field trip destination and a place that visitors to Memphis must go to in order to learn about the rich heritage of the area.

Memphis, TN, United States
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Woodruff-Fontaine House

This 1870s house is part of Victorian Village, where Memphis homes dating from the 1800s have been preserved and restored. In addition to the furniture and decorative arts displayed inside, the house also has an exhibit of clothing from the Victorian era. Look at the cinched waists and layers of velvet and wonder how the Victorian ladies survived the hot Memphis summers. Tours are held every half hour.

Memphis, TN, United States
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Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum

Highlights of the Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum's permanent collection include several Elvis costumes, B.B. King's guitar (affectionately called "Lucille" by the legendary musician), and Dick Clark's American Bandstand podium. The museum also offers special temporary exhibits. The museum is available for private parties and events.

Memphis, TN, United States
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Sun Studio

Standing on Union Avenue since 1950, this iconic studio has played host to everyone from Jerry Lee Lewis and to B.B King and Johnny Cash, who've all recorded multiple legendary albums here. In 1953, a certain 18-year-old named Elvis Presley walked into the studio and paid to record two songs; the rest is history. Trending even today, the Sun welcomes modern musicians to make records here, many of whom have gone on to join the studio's golden roster of world-famous musical talents. The studio has gradually transformed itself into a historic attraction where numerous artifacts and exhibits relating to its illustrious guests are delicately preserved and displayed for generations to cherish.

Memphis, TN, United States
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Slavehaven Underground Railroad Museum

This tiny house stands as a reminder of both a dark period in American history and the efforts of many to remedy the wrongs of slavery. A merchant named Jacob Burkle, who ran a stockyard before the American Civil War, provided a haven for many runaway slaves on their journey through the Underground Railroad. Here you can see where they waited for the instructions that helped them find their way across the Mississippi River to freedom.

Memphis, TN, United States
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Pink Palace Museum and Planetarium

This museum is housed in the Georgian marble home built in the 1920s by Clarence Sanders, founder of the Piggly Wiggly grocery store chain. Sanders never got to live here, and the city transformed the site into a complex of attractions, including the Sharpe Planetarium and an IMAX theater. The Pink Palace's exhibits cover topics ranging from dinosaurs to the Civil War, and from the early Spanish explorers to the evolution of medical research in Memphis.

Memphis, TN, United States
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Graceland

Once home to music legend Elvis Presley, Graceland epitomizes the flamboyant style that the unforgettable seventies packed in. Life came a full circle for the King of Rock 'n' Roll when he purchased this Colonial Revival house in Memphis from Stephen Toof, a way of honoring the city that fed his musical ambitions and set him on his way to becoming a rising star. Rumoured to be the second most-visited house in the United States, Graceland is preserved exactly as it was when Elvis lived here. Elvis Presley bought this 13.8 acre (5.6 hectares) estate in 1957 and spent a large part of his life expanding and improving the opulent property. On the boulevard named after the legend himself, a sleek entertainment complex and adjoining visitors centre feed Elvis' fans still-extant frenzy through a wealth of displays and exhibits that revolve around the musician's life. The Elvis Entertainer Career Museum highlights the main aspects of his singing career, and display his most iconic sartorial collections, while the Automobile Museum showcases the stunning fleet of cars that Elvis rode in, from the Cadillac Eldorado to the Stutz Blackhawk. On August 16, the anniversary of Elvis' death, a candlelight vigil draws worldwide fans to this exceptional monument.

Memphis, TN, United States
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C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa

The C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa is a prehistoric American Indian archaeological site dating back to the 15th Century. The site was occupied, abandoned and reoccupied several times throughout its history, spanning from 1000 to 1550 A.D. The museum, named after its founding director, curates an extensive collection of artifacts recovered during a 40-year period of systematic excavations. The site features a Mississippian mound complex, a nature trail and arboretum, a hands-on archaeology lab, and exhibits that explore the history and life-ways of Native Americans of the historic and prehistoric southeastern United States.

Memphis, TN, United States
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