Only in Nashville can you find a museum dedicated to the life and career of one of country music’s, and the music world at large, most revered and influential stars – Johnny Cash. Opened in 2013, the museum boasts one-of-a-kind artifacts chronicling the legacy of the Man in Black from household memorabilia to the famous costumes he donned on stage. When I first visited the city as a tourist four years ago with my parents and best friend, we explored many Nashville staples such as the Country Music Hall of Fame, Grande Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium. So when that same friend came back to visit, it seemed only natural that we add one of Nashville’s newest attractions to our list of must-see sites.
As you explore the museum, you’re treated to a close-up of heirlooms you won’t find anywhere else surrounding the music legend – who clearly has a fascinating history that extends far beyond his highly successful music career. When you first walk in, one is met with a display of collectibles from Cash’s early years, including tokens from his days in the service. An interactive element is included with touchscreen monitors that allow visitors to listen to various music clips spanning from the ‘50s through the 2000s.
But it wouldn’t be a Johnny Cash museum without an array of music relics. Throughout the establishment you’ll find a series of outfits and costumes Cash and wife June Carter would wear during performances on “The Johnny Cash Show,” including his classic black suit and her old fashioned style dresses. Many of Cash’s instruments that he used to create his storied songs, a wall of records, and a display of the Tennessee Two (the background band Cash played with for more than two decades) are also strong highlights of his music career.
Interestingly enough, the singer created a hand-made Bible quiz for his staff at the House of Cash offices, which makes for a unique display. A personal favorite is a stunning wooden chest from Cash and Carter’s longtime home in Hendersonville, TN. Vividly engraved with fine detail and showcasing elegant glassware, it paints a picture for the viewer of how extravagant the rest of the home must have looked.
Right behind it is a stone wall unearthed from the actual lake house, which tragically burned down in 2007, in addition to a pair of chairs from the home, with one bestowing a large red heart Johnny gave to June on Valentine’s Day reading “June, my love, my life for life” a sight that is sure to make any visitor swoon, along with a picture of the two on their wedding day – and June clearly overjoyed with emotion. Just before you exit the museum is a display of items used in the singer’s final music video for the emotional song “Hurt,” which was filmed in his home, making for a somber, yet fitting conclusion to the experience.
If you’re looking for a taste of true country music, the Johnny Cash Museum is sure to provide you with that authenticity. Whether you’re a loyal fan or someone who is simply interested in the life and career of Johnny Cash, there’s no doubt you’ll enjoy the many pieces of history in this museum and gain insight into the mysterious Man in Black.
119 3rd Ave South
Open: Monday-Sunday, 9am – 7pm
Admission: $13 – $17 (Children under 5 are free)