Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum Tours

At the core of any tour to Nashville is its Country Music Hall of Fame, its windows designed like piano keys reflecting its significance as an integral component of its identity and culture.

Since 1967, when it first opened its doors on Music Row, the Museum has moved to its current downtown location and offers world-class exhibitions and interacts with musicians, artists, educators and students.

The Hall of Fame

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum collects, preserves and interprets country music history for education and enjoyment of diverse audiences. Operated by the Country Music Foundation – an educational non-profit founded in Tennessee in 1964 – this museum’s mission is to preserve and celebrate country music’s enduring beauty and cultural importance while celebrating its beauty through exhibitions as well as Historic RCA Studio B, Hatch Show Print poster shop sales and CMF Records productions.

Established on Nashville’s iconic Music Row in 1967, the Hall of Fame relocated to its current downtown facility in 2001. Boasting two floors of gallery spaces showcasing country music’s growth in context with American history.

As well as its world-class exhibitions, the Museum offers programs and events tailored to all ages. Educational initiatives at the Museum aim at reaching students, teachers and families; performance venues like Hall of Fame Theater and Ford Theater host nationally recognized live music and cultural events regularly.

The Museum’s Oral History Collection is an ongoing project featuring remarkable interviews with performers, recording artists, songwriters and others who have had a hand in country music. Their Moving Image Collection comprises film footage that spans two centuries – another great resource.

Instrument demonstrations provide visitors with an opportunity to discover and play some of country music’s most enduring instruments – banjo, fiddle, guitar and bass are among them – in addition to costumes and stage gear from its golden era of traditional country music on display in the Museum’s collection.

Eric Church: Country Heart, Restless Soul is an engaging new exhibit which examines his remarkable career and contributions to country music. Ranging from intimate clubs to arena rafters, this display traces Church’s journey as an influential artist who has defined genre and inspired fans alike.

Early Influences is an annual exhibition series that spotlights musicians and songwriters whose work predated rock n roll and helped shape its leading artists, such as Jimmie Rodgers, Woody Guthrie and Hank Williams. These individuals will all be inducted as Early Influencers into our hall of Fame.

The Museum

The Museum celebrates country music’s rich history and traditions by collecting, preserving, and interpreting its legacy for diverse audiences. World-class exhibits can be found within this Museum experience such as its Hall of Fame Rotunda, Historic RCA Studio B, Hatch Show Print and much more! Currently managed by the Country Music Foundation; an educational non-profit founded by Tennessee state government.

First opened on Nashville’s historic Music Row, the Country Music Museum relocated to its current downtown location following a $100 million expansion which doubled its size. Widely considered the Smithsonian of country music, the Museum features 350,000 square feet of dynamic galleries, state-of-the-art exhibits, archives storage areas, classrooms for educational use, retail stores and special event space – making it the center of country music education in Nashville.

Each year, the Museum presents two major exhibits to its visitors. American Currents provides a global view of country music since 2012 while Western Edge explores how tight-knit communities of singers, songwriters and musicians embraced country music at intimate clubs and in arenas to form musical hybrids that have left lasting marks on culture.

As well as its permanent and temporary exhibits, the Museum offers a robust schedule of public programs. The Taylor Swift Education Center welcomes children, teachers, families and friends while the CMA Theater and Ford Theater host nationally recognized live performances as well as cultural events.

The Museum houses over 2.5 million artifacts spanning stage costumes and instruments to historic cars and photographs. Additionally, it safeguards some of country music history’s crown jewels – Hall of Fame inductee records, costumes and memorabilia. Furthermore, its First Library and Archives preserve historic video clips and music recordings as well as featuring one of the largest collections of artist personal belongings of any public museum.

Country music fans of all stripes should visit Nashville’s Country Music Museum as soon as they arrive in town. Situated in its entertainment district, its proximity to many honky-tonks and venues where many honorees made their mark makes it an unmissable destination. Its distinctive design – resembling a bass clef when seen from above – adds flair and energy to Nashville’s downtown core skyline; while its Hall of Fame stands as an impressive testament to country music’s deep roots as well as its contributions towards American culture – makes this visit worthwhile!

The RCA Studio B

Historic RCA Studio B stands as the birthplace of country music’s “Nashville sound.” Here Elvis Presley recorded Are You Lonesome Tonight and Jolene while Dolly Parton sang I Will Always Love You – amongst many other iconic recordings made during its history by Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Bobby Bare in addition to gospel legends Eddy Arnold Skeeter Davis and the Blackwood Brothers.

After closing as a recording studio in 1977, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum assumed control of its former space, transforming it into an interactive gallery for visitors to explore. From Hank Williams’ Martin guitar to Elvis Presley’s boots – each exhibit tells its own unique tale about country music from its infancy through to modern day popularity.

Discover iconic instruments and equipment that have helped define country music, while learning how some of today’s top artists get their sound. Low Country Sound records label, run by Grammy-nominated producer Dave Cobb (known for working with Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell, and Shooter Jennings among other artists), is located within this studio as well.

Your tour of Historic RCA Studio B will start at the CMHoF, where you’ll be assigned an arrival time and bus ride directly to the studio. When you arrive, your tour guide will show you around while sharing stories from its rich past – Dolly Parton’s big break, Elvis recording sessions with family and more will all come alive during this fascinating journey!

Step inside the vocal booth that once housed Elvis and many of his contemporaries. Notice the X on the checkered floor which marked Elvis’ sweet spot as well as how Roy Orbison utilized a coat rack as makeshift vocal booth. At the conclusion of your tour, listen as your guide plays some hits that originated here!

RCA Studio B may no longer be the hit factory of old, but contemporary musicians still seek the iconic Nashville sound in this facility. Gillian Welch and David Rawlings enlisted its help when recording Time together back in 2001, while Marty Stuart utilized its services when recording Ghost Train: The Studio B Sessions back in 2010.

The Hatch Show Print

Hatch Show Print has been making posters since 1879 and can now be found inside the Country Music Hall of Fame, creating each piece by hand while using printing presses that are over 50 years old. Founded by Edward Hatch in 1879, today they produce posters for artists using letterpress printing presses that date back between 50-100 years!

Hatch’s Typographic Shop still sets its type by hand, using an enormous collection of wood and metal blocks from around the world to produce its work. Unlike digital printers, however, the Hatch presses can only accept specific type for each poster design – forcing designers to make creative choices to match type size and style while maintaining balance on page. This effect is known as “poster-style layout.”

Visit the shop when the presses are running to hear their clicking sounds punctuated by thumps and thwacks – this will create an almost acoustic environment, providing visitors with an experience reminiscent of country music culture that’s been shaped over a century by these machines.

Visitors can explore two expansive floors of gallery space at the Museum and experience country music’s development through both permanent and limited-engagement exhibitions. Artifacts belonging to legendary country figures like Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams can be seen alongside those belonging to modern country superstars like Taylor Swift and Luke Bryan.

As the collection at this museum is so vast, it is best to set aside at least an entire day for viewing everything it offers. Additionally, tours and educational activities may also be available depending on how busy you are.

Sarah O’Connell of Middle Tennessee State University’s Letterpress Department helps her students hone their letterpressing skills while learning about Nashville icon Scarlett Cook from Memphis recently visited Nashville and couldn’t resist buying one more show poster to commemorate her visit!