This blog post was updated on September 19, 2023.
Nashville is about a whole lot more than just country music. Sure, there’s the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame. But Nashville has so much more to offer visitors than just songs about losing your truck, your girl, and your dog.
In fact, Nashville is often dubbed the “Athens of the South,” a name it more than lives up to through the city’s vibrant arts scene. (Heck, it even has its own Parthenon.) Visitors can explore world-class museums and appreciate artistic treasures both old and new. The city’s rich cultural offerings truly make it a southern hub for artistic inspiration.
Here are our top five picks for places to see art in Nashville, Tennessee.
Frist Center for the Visual Arts
Founded in 2001, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts is a large nonprofit art exhibition center dedicated to presenting the finest visual art from local, state and regional artists. In addition to its impressive permanent collection the Frist Center also welcomes touring exhibitions — this means that the Frist Center you visit today could be completely different from the one you visited 8 weeks ago. Frist’s fabulous Art Deco building also houses the Martin ArtQuest Gallery, a colorful learning space (including both virtual and hands-on opportunities) for young visitors.
The Parthenon Art Museum
Nashville is home to a full-scale replica of the Greek Parthenon, located in the urban Centennial Park. The Parthenon is also the location of the city of Nashville’s art museum. Its permanent collection is small, and consists of a group of 63 paintings by 19th and 20th century American artists donated by James M. Cowan. However, additional gallery spaces house a wide array of temporary shows and exhibits.
Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery
Located on Vanderbilt’s Peabody College campus, the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery features a series of exhibitions that represent the diversity of international artistic production. As well as housing a permanent collection of over 6,000 works, the Fine Arts Gallery serves as a resource to the university community through exhibitions, student seminars, and special programs.
Cheekwood Museum of Art
The Cheekwood Museum of Art is located in a 30,000-square foot Georgian-style mansion. The permanent collection consists of American historic and contemporary painting and sculpture, prints, drawings and photographs, as well as English and American decorative arts, including an extensive silver collection, American Art Pottery, and the most comprehensive collection of Worcester porcelain in United States. The museum also hosts traveling exhibitions. Make sure to save time to tour the adjacent botanical gardens as well.
Tennessee State Museum
The impressive Tennessee State Museum currently occupies three floors of the James K. Polk Center, covering approximately 120,000 square feet with more than 60,000 square feet devoted to exhibits. The permanent collection includes historic southern art that narrates the history of Tennessee, as well as historic objects, period rooms, and panoramas.
Q: What are the opening hours of the Frist Art Museum?
A: The Frist Art Museum’s opening hours vary, so it’s best to check their official website for the most up-to-date information.
Q: Is there an admission fee for Cheekwood Estate & Gardens?
A: Yes, there is an admission fee for Cheekwood Estate & Gardens. Prices may vary depending on the season and any special exhibitions.
Q: Can I visit the Parthenon at night?
A: The Parthenon’s exterior is open to the public 24/7. However, the interior museum has its own operating hours, so be sure to check their schedule.
Did we leave out your favorite place to see art in Nashville? Tell us about it in the comments below!