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Best History Museums in Memphis

By: Cityseeker
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W.C. Handy's Memphis Home & Museum

This building was the Memphis home of William Christopher Handy, who is often referred to as the "Father of the Blues." He wrote the song "Memphis Blues" in 1912 at the request of E.H. Crump, then running for mayor, and it became something of an anthem for the city. A major award for blues musicians, the W.C. Handy Award, is given every year at the Orpheum Theater in Memphis. The W.C. Handy Home features exhibits on Handy's career that trace the history of the blues in Memphis.

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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National Civil Rights Museum

While speaking on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. You can relive history here by visiting the balcony and Dr. King's room, restored as it was when he was here to support the sanitation workers' strike. Through interactive multimedia exhibits you participate in the civil rights movement and learn its history from the 1600s through Rosa Parks and the freedom riders until today.

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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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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