National Museum of African American Music

The National Museum of African American Music is a museum scheduled to open in Nashville, Tennessee in 2020. It is expected to showcase musical genres inspired, created, or influenced by African-Americans. Its location at Fifth + Broadway in Downtown Nashville as opposed to Jefferson Street has been controversial.

National Museum of African American Music
LocationFifth + Broadway, Nashville, Tennessee
PresidentH. Beecher Hicks, III
CuratorDina Bennett



The museum will comprise "five permanent themed galleries" as well as "a 200-seat theater and traveling exhibits".[1] Its founding curator, Dr. Dina Bennett, was appointed in May 2018.[2]

The museum is expected to showcase more than fifty musical genres that were inspired, created, or influenced by African American culture, ranging from early American religious music to hip-hop and Rhythm and Blues.[3] Its collection will include up to 1,400 artifacts,[4] including clothes worn by Nat King Cole, Dorothy Dandridge, Whitney Houston, and Lisa Lopes.[5] The first traveling exhibit is expected to be about the Fisk Jubilee Singers.[6]


The museum received $500,000 from the Regions Foundation and $500,000 from the Mike Curb Foundation in February 2019.[1]


The museum was initially supposed to be built at the intersection of Rosa Parks Boulevard and Jefferson Street, the historic center of the city's African-American community.[7] After the location was changed to Downtown Nashville in 2016, the staff of the Tennessee Tribune, Nashville's African-American newspaper, explained:

This very city government once destroyed all of the African American Business on Jefferson Street where there was loss of income, businesses, homes and the city turned its back. The city now wants to dictate to the African American Community where it wants the Museum and once again treat African Americans who elected them to office as 2nd class citizens with no rights or input for a project that is the African American Community project. It is the most racist effort this city has had for the last 20 years.

— Tribune Staff, The Tennessee Tribune (November 18, 2016)[7]

The museum will be located at Fifth + Broadway in Downtown Nashville, where the Nashville Convention Center once stood.[8] The new complex, which is expected to cost $450 million,[1] is being developed by OliverMcMillan and Spectrum | Emery, a company owned by businessman Pat Emery.[8][9]

The location, close to Broadway and the Ryman Auditorium, was praised by Senator Marsha Blackburn at a fundraising event in February 2019.[1] Mayor David Briley added, "For Nashville to get past its history of racism and to start to move to an era where African-Americans both know and can tell their own history in our city, we have to invest in this museum."[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Paulson, Dave (February 19, 2019). "National Museum of African American Music receives $1 million from Regions, Mike Curb foundations". The Tennessean. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  2. ^ "African American music museum adds senior curator". Nashville Post. May 16, 2018. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  3. ^ Herman, Michelle (30 December 2018). "These Museums Are Opening In 2019". Forbes. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
  4. ^ Trageser, Stephen (January 10, 2019). "Stories to Watch 2019: The National Museum of African American Music". Nashville Scene. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  5. ^ Paulson, Dave (21 August 2018). "First look: National Museum of African American Music unveils collection". The Tennessean. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
  6. ^ Wicker, Jewel (February 20, 2019). "National Museum of African American Music Is Getting Closer to Opening In Nashville: Details". Billboard. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  7. ^ a b "Black Music Museum Belongs on Jefferson St". Tennessee Tribune. November 18, 2016. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  8. ^ a b Reicher, Mike (August 19, 2018). "In unusual move, Fifth + Broadway developer seeks $25M in tax-exempt bonds from MDHA". The Tennessean. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  9. ^ Sichko, Adam (November 4, 2014). "Meet the man Pat Emery asked to help influence downtown's most pivotal site". Nashville Business Journal. Retrieved February 25, 2019.