Central Tennessee is a hub for cultural arts, with a rich history of music, crafts, and legends. From the Country Music Museum and Hall of Fame to the Frist Museum of Art and the Ryman Auditorium, this region has been home to many notable figures in the arts. From painting and drawing to sculpture and ceramics, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Music City. The geographical, economic, and social divisions of Tennessee are reflected in its regionalized culture.
The pioneering white European tradition has helped shape the music, crafts, and legends of East Tennessee, while African Americans have been a formative cultural force in the western part of the state. Middle Tennessee has cultivated a unique amalgamation of religious, educational, and other institutions. Tennessee has long been at the forefront of the country's musical development. The mountainous eastern region is home to a variety of rural Appalachian music rooted in the Scottish-Irish tradition as well as popular styles of country music.
Dolly Parton, from East Tennessee, has been at the forefront of country and mountain music performances and has actively promoted Appalachian traditions at her popular Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge. Central Tennessee is no less illustrious than its eastern and western counterparts when it comes to musical heritage. Since 1925, when the radio program “Grand Ole Opry” first aired, Nashville has been the national center for performing, recording, and publishing country music. The Opry has been critical in bringing musicians like Bill Monroe—the creator of bluegrass music—to stardom.
The Tennessee Performing Arts Center (opened in 1980) and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum (established in 1967) have given new impetus to the performing arts of Central Tennessee and the state in general. In addition to its musical offerings, Nashville's art scene is full of painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, photography, video, film, design, crafts, and architecture. In East Tennessee, visitors can explore the Appalachian Museum (196), near Norris; the American Museum of Science and Energy (194) in Oak Ridge; Rock City gardens; and the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. The Tennessee State Museum (193) in Nashville exhibits contemporary and former art as well as historic artifacts that document the state's cultural richness and vitality.
In western Tennessee, visitors can explore the former Lorraine Hotel in Memphis—site of the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.—and admire one of the largest collections of American art in the country at the Hunter Museum of American Art. There are also many galleries and emerging artists in Nashville's Bluff View, NorthShore, and Southside art districts. The creative spirit found in Nashville's songwriting community is also prominent in its performing arts scene. More than 50 art centers participate in presenting local and world-renowned artists and works of art as well as offering an opportunity to meet and discuss art with like-minded people.
From its musical heritage to its vibrant art scene, Central Tennessee is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to explore its cultural arts offerings. Immerse yourself in Music City's burgeoning art scene by visiting galleries or attending theater productions.