See the present through the past
Memphis history runs as deep as the Mighty Miss. River culture, racial turbulence and Egyptian antiquity have all cut a swath through the city, shaping its social and cultural landscape -- and, in some cases, that of the nation, as well. Memphis has a diverse selection of museums keeping that heritage alive.
The Nile runs through it
Institute of Egyptian Art and Archaeology
University of Memphis
Memphis has carried its fascination with Egypt beyond its name -- chosen in the early 1800s as an allusion to an ancient capital on the Nile. While the unusual Pyramid arena ("The Tomb of Doom," according to many sports fans) provides perhaps the most prominent example of Memphis' namesake, the University of Memphis supplies a less Las Vegas'ed view. The Institute of Egyptian Art and Archaeology presents more than 150 artifacts dating as far back as 3500 B.C., including mummies, jewelry and relics of daily life. The Art Museum of the University of Memphis also holds a permanent collection of West African art.
Stepping into history
The National Civil Rights Museum
450 Mulberry Street
Rooms 306 and 307 of what was once the Lorraine Motel create an emotional focal point for the National Civil Rights Museum. The rooms are presented as they were on April 4, 1968, when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on the balcony of the motel. The six-year-old museum provides a comprehensive view of the Civil Rights movement, beginning with the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision that undermined legalized segregation -- and touching on events from the Freedom Summer to the March on Washington and continuing Civil Rights efforts.
Mud in your eye
125 North Front Street
You can leave your waders at the dock -- Mud Island is a lot spiffier than its name lets on. The 52-acre park, dubbed for the infamous muck of the grand river that surrounds it, celebrates the Mississippi with an 18-gallery museum and an impressive five-block-long replica of the river itself, complete with mapped sidewalks providing a birds-eye view of cities and bridges. A monorail ride from downtown offers a different perspective -- a view of the Memphis skyline from above the water.
Note: Related sites will open in a new browser window.
Music! Music! Music! | For Little Elvises
King Calendar | Memphis Links
Meet Me in Memphis
Graceland Tour de Force | Jumpsuits Across America