The Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum’s exhibition about the birth of rock and soul music was created by the Smithsonian Institution. It tells the story of musical pioneers who, for the love of music, overcame racial and socio-economic barriers to create the music that shook the entire world.
Located at 191 Beale, on the corner of legendary Highway 61 and inside of the FedExForum sports and entertainment complex, the museum offers a comprehensive Memphis music experience. It will take you from the rural field hollers and sharecroppers of the 1930s, through the explosion of Sun, Stax, and Hi Records, inside Memphis’ musical heyday in the 70s, to its global musical influence. The museum’s digital audio tour guide is packed with over 300 minutes of information, including over 100 songs. It takes visitors at their own pace through seven galleries featuring 3 audio visual programs, more than 30 instruments, 40 costumes, and other musical treasures.
The museum and gift shop are open daily, 9:30 a.m. - 7 p.m. Admission is $12.50 for adults and $9.50 for youth ages 5-17. Shelby County residents are offered free admission any Tuesday afternoon between the hours of 2 and 7 p.m. by simply showing a photo ID with proof of residence. The museum also offers other special discounts for AARP members, AAA members, Smithsonian members, members of the military, and more. Be sure to ask about special discounts when you arrive.
The Rock 'n' Soul Museum first opened on April 29, 2000. It has welcomed over 1,000,000 visitors from all over the world, including thousands of school students who participate in the museum’s Education Program, eager to learn about the social changes that have impacted the nation and led to the development of rock ‘n’ roll.
Our museum was the “first born” of the world-renowned Smithsonian Institution and was developed by the National Museum of American History (NMAH) to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Smithsonian Institution. In 1996, the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum became the first exhibition to have ever been developed by the Smithsonian Institution with another museum.
In 1990, the NMAH set out to develop a traveling exhibition about “American music” and continually returned to the Delta and Memphis for what was finally declared as the "roots of America’s music”. The sounds of field hollers, work songs, blues, country, and gospel of the sharecroppers in the 1930-40s eventually collided and fused with the urban sounds of Beale Street (urban blues and jazz), Sun Studio (rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly), Stax Recording, and Hi Records (rhythm & blues, soul music).
Funding was not initially secured for the traveling exhibition, but a group of visionary Memphians banded together to raise the necessary dollars in order to complete the research, acquire pertinent objects and artifacts, and complete the installation and construction of the museum.
According to the Smithsonian Institution, the “Rock ‘n’ Soul: Social Crossroads” exhibit is the story of the body of music that had the most influence on the culture and lifestyles of the world from the middle of the 20th Century until today. It has affected the way we walk, the way we talk, the way we comb our hair, and the way we dress– not only in Memphis but in the entire world.
In August of 2004, the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum became established as one of the city’s most prominent museums when it became a part of the FedExForum, Memphis’ premier sports and entertainment venue and home to the NBA Memphis Grizzlies.
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