Art Museums | Tennessee Vacation

Art Museums

Immerse yourself in the edifying culture of art. Tennessee’s art museums cover the broad spectrum of human creativity and imagination, blended with colorful pinches of local flavor.

Tennessee is a treat for the artistic eye, from the impressive collection of American art at Chattanoogas architecturally striking Hunter Museum, to the regional and international exhibitions at the beautiful Frist Center.

Stimulate your senses with Italian Renaissance art or immerse yourself in a pre-Columbian world at the states oldest museum, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. A vast collection of works on paper, emerging artist showcases, photography and fine crafts are the centerpieces of Knoxville Museum of Art. The Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art, the Fisk University Galleries, the Ewing Gallery of Art and Architecture, and the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery are just a few of Tennessees museums to interest and inspire you.


Cultivate culture in the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, a dynamic complex of 29 galleries and an original Beaux-arts style building with a grand terrace. Set amid 17 acres, one of Memphis premier art museums, the Dixon Gallery and Gardens features Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings, the Stout Collection of 18th-century porcelain, and changing exhibitions. For something unique, step into the Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art to see treasures from the Quing Dynasty and a gallery devoted to contemporary Judaica.

The West Tennessee Regional Art Center in Humboldt takes pride in being the only permanent fine arts museum between Nashville and Memphis. Paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, lithographs and silkscreens comprise the permanent Caldwell Collection. 

In Nashville, Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Museum of Art is a grand 18th-century mansion with broad collections of American and British arts, contemporary art and the Woodland Sculpture Trail. The centerpiece of urban Centennial Park, the Parthenon has a permanent collection of paintings by 19th- and 20th-century American artists. Downtown’s Frist Center for the Visual Arts presents the finest work from state artists as well as major international exhibitions.

Glimpse early Tennessee art and history at the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville. The Fisk University Galleries hold an impressive collection of work from a variety of cultures and by many renowned artists, including Georgia OKeefe. 


Family-friendly Chattanooga shows off a concentration on American art from the Colonial period to the present day at the Hunter Museum, where amazing architecture showcases stunning exhibitions. Another Chattanooga must-see, the Houston Museum of Decorative Arts, houses the collections of the late Anna Safley Houston, one of the world’s finest collections of antique glass and ceramics and the world’s largest collection of pitchers. Open the century-old African wood doors to Chattanooga’s African American Museum, and the education begins. Some exhibits explore African history, but the most unique items capture the regional African-American experience.

Clad in Tennessee marble, the Knoxville Museum of Art at the World’s Fair Park includes five galleries, a sculpture terrace, an exploratory gallery and two large outdoor gardens. The Ewing Gallery of Art & Architecture, part of the University of Tennessee’s School of Art, showcases current art and architecture. The Frank H. McClung Museum is a special place of discovery, with collections in anthropology, archaeology, decorative arts, local history, and natural history.

For hidden gems in the art world, visit picturesque Sewanee, where the University of the South’s idyllic location and reputation as a cultural center draw talent and audiences to its University Art Center. In Johnson City, spend a day at the Carroll Reece Museum, with six galleries of art, fine crafts, musical instruments and regional history.