Arguably America’s musical heart, a cultural melting pot that created the rhythm and blues sound, Memphis has a number of tourist attractions dedicated to the craft. Local favorites—some well-known, some more obscure—are celebrated in the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, a small upstairs Smithsonian-branded museum, which shares a building with the Hard Rock Café Memphis and a retail outlet of Memphis clothier Lansky Bros. The museum is the headquarters for an off-site annual induction ceremony that adds new note-worthy blues, soul, and rock musicians from the city to its ranks—among its honored acts Al Green, Justin Timberlake, Johnny Cash, David Porter, Elvis Presley, and B.B. King.
Visitors can read about the perfect storm that led to a burgeoning music scene in Memphis, and browse interactive displays offering information about inductees’ and their discographies. There’s also videos and large glass cases housing prized possessions including a playbill and guitar used by Johnny Cash; Isaac Hayes’ white, electric organ; Elvis Presley’s briefcase telephone; and one of Al Green’s green suits. There’s also a bevvy of outlandish, shiny and ostentatious costumes worn by inductees (including one ornamented with a stuffed snake), an Oscar from the movie Hustle and Flow, and ½ of Jerry Lee Lewis’ baby blue Cadillac protruding from a wall.
The Memphis Music Hall of Fame is located at 126 Beale Street in downtown Memphis, four blocks from the Mississippi River, and two blocks northwest of the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum. Several bus routes connect the museum to Central Station.
Exhibits are open daily from 10am to 7pm, and admission is $8 for adults, $6 for children. It’s possible to see the small museum in an hour. Bundled tickets with the similar and nearby Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum are also available. The museum has a small gift shop selling branded mugs, magnets, t-shirts and more, near its entrance.