Disclaimer: Memphis Travel was kind enough to provide my ticket to the National Civil Rights Museum this time, but I sincerely love this place, and I have gone to the museum multiple times with my own family. Memphis Travel providing my ticket is not shaping my opinion of the museum in any way!
Are you in need of a fantastic museum to visit while in Memphis, Tennessee? Memphis has so many museums (here's looking at you Stax, Pink Palace, Graceland, etc.) but I have a particular affinity for the National Civil Rights Museum. It is a crash course on the National Civil Rights movement, and it's a fantastic museum to visit for all ages.
Related Reading: My Memphis, Tennessee Travel Guide & Bucket List
First and foremost, the National Civil Rights Museum is located here:
The museum is not too far from downtown Memphis, and you are pretty close to other fun Memphis attractions. I love how centrally located it is to other things I like to do in Memphis!
All prices are subject to change.
The National Civil Rights Museum is not all that pricey, but it depends on the needs of you and who you are visiting with.
Here are the individual ticket prices:
- Adults: $16.00
- Seniors & Students With ID: $14.00
- Children 5-17 years old: $13.00
- Children 4 and under: Free
- Members, Active Military: Free
So, you must be wondering, how does one become a member? Simple: when you get to the museum, ask to become a member! You can fill out the paperwork at the counter!
There are a couple of different membership options:
- Individual: $50 a year (this comes with admission for one adult as many times as you want throughout the year + 2 single-use guest passes)
- Family Dual: $75 a year (this comes with admission for 2 adults and up to 5 children as many times as you want throughout the year + 4 single-use guest passes)
- Supporter: $125 a year (this comes with admission for 2 adults and up to 5 children as many times as you want throughout the year + 6 single-use guest passes)
- Sustainer: $250 a year (this comes with admission for 2 adults and up to 5 children as many times as you want throughout the year + 8 single-use guest passes)
My family usually goes for the Family Dual package which saves us money even on one trip! Then you can continue to go to the museum free throughout the year if you make your way back to Memphis, TN or you live close like I do. It is a great deal!
Here are the hours for the National Civil Rights Museum
Monday: 9 AM–5 PM
Wednesday: 9 AM–5 PM
Thursday: 9 AM–5 PM
Friday: 9 AM–5 PM
Saturday: 9 AM–5 PM
Sunday: 9 AM–5 PM
I like that it's open every day during the weekend. The hours help you enjoy the museum during a time when most families can go. Of course, it's completely closed on Tuesday, so if you plan to visit then, you won't be able to go. I went on a Sunday, and it was quite busy, but it was still a great visit!
If you can, I suggest going earlier in the morning. We got to the museum at around 10:30 AM. When we left at around 1 PM, the place was getting busier by the minute. You don't want to be caught in the rush!
This is something that is a recent thing (or at least I feel this way), but security was a pretty big deal. I don't feel like my past visits have been this stringent, but security is always a great thing (especially when you are dealing with sensitive issues like civil rights in America.)
To get into the museum, everyone had to go through a metal detector. You had to empty your pockets, big purses or bags were checked if necessary, etc. This process makes getting into the museum take a bit longer, but security is essential!
What To Expect
Now that we have gone through some of the preliminary information let's chat about what to expect.
This museum is super interactive! You can touch exhibits, use these phones to listen to conversations with civil rights leaders, and just be engrossed in this entire movement.
For example, there is a bus that you can get on with a statue of Rosa Parks. The entire time you are on the bus you hear a bus driver telling you to get up and move to the back of the bus. It's a surreal experience especially since by that time you have been quite engrossed in the experience.
There are so many interactive elements throughout this museum. You won't be bored as you travel from exhibit to exhibit.
Lots Of Information
This museum is packing a lot of information into one. The first building starts with slavery and ends with the death of Martin Luther King Jr. The second building talks a lot about his assassination and how we continue to move forward afterward.
Yep, you heard that right; there are TWO buildings.
They say you should plan to visit for at least 2 hours, but I feel like even that cuts it short. If you want to get immersed and learn as much as you can, I say a quality visit should be 3-ish hours. I have gone to the museum multiple times, and the museum hits me differently each time I go!
Yep, it's a busy attraction. Especially at the moment since they are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's death. To be honest, though, it's always busy. I have never gone to the museum when it's not busy, especially on the weekend.
There are people of all ages visiting from children to seniors.
The museum still seems to flow pretty well, even when there are tons of people visiting. This is something to keep in mind if you are going with anyone who doesn't like to be around a ton of people.
I am a pretty introverted person, and for the most part, I am usually okay. Sometimes it can be a bit congested, especially when you first start the tour. After a while, things seem to thin out as people go about the museum tour at their own pace,
National Civil Rights Museum Photo Diary
How Does It Feel To Be A Problem?
This is a quote from W.E.B. DuBois that truly spoke to me as I started the journey of visiting the National Civil Rights museum. I had to take a picture of this just so that I could share it with you. DuBois was a sociologist that I truly admire and love learning more about. If you are a sociology major and you haven't ready anything about him I really encourage you to check out The Scholar Denied by Aldon Morris! It's a fantastic book about his life and legacy.
Separate But Equal
It is always so crazy to me that there was once a law in this country about segregation being okay in schools if the schools were "equal." Looking back you could tell that the schools were never equal, and I couldn't imagine my childhood in a segregated way. I am so proud of the strides that we have made in this country in just the last century. Now, we must make more changes for the better!
We Will No Longer Accept The Inferior Position Of Second-Class Citizenship
This was one of quotes near the lunch counter. I saw this quote and I had to take a picture of it. We have to be willing to do what is necessary to be on the right side of history.
At The Lunch Counter
This part of the National Civil Rights Museum always gets to me. Sitting at the counter while you are hearing the film behind you is so powerful. Hearing what these people have gone through, things I couldn't imagine. I love this picture of me and my momma at the counter.
Wear Old Clothes
There were a ton of boycotts during this time. People taking a stand against busses, restaurants, schools, and more who didn't live up to the American dream and American laws. I love looking at these old protest signs and thinking about all the interesting protests of this time. If you haven't heard of the Montgomery Bus Boycott yet, you need to look it up. The amount of solidarity shown over a year long bus boycott always amazes me!
Can A Man Love God?
This is another protest sign that truly got to me during the museum tour. It's a question that gets me thinking and it should make you think too.
The Green Book
One part of history that always got to me was the use of Green books. These were published volumes that showcased places that were African American friendly. Traveling was often scary for African Americans because they were never sure what they would find on the road, these books helped them travel with dignity because it highlighted the places that would accept them and their money.
The Albany Movement
These walls in the museum were all about The Albany Movement in Albany, Georgia. I took a panorama shot of both walls so you could get a glimpse of some of the extensive exhibits in the museum.
Interactive Phone exhibits
One of my favorite parts of the museum are the interactive phone exhibits. There are a ton of different types of interactive exhibits but these are really cool. Throughout the museum there are these phone stations. Each station has a number of different people you can "call." This is a picture of my niece using one of the machines to hear the story of a civil rights leader.
Letter From A Birmingham Jail
One of my favorite written works from Dr. King is Letter From A Birmingham Jail. He wrote this letter when he was arrested and in jail in Birmingham, Alabama. If you have never read this, you can read it here. African Americans and law enforcement have never been on the best terms. I love that the National Civil Rights movement turned this notion on its head and based a large part of the movement on not being afraid to go to jail for what is right or not being afraid to break unjust rules.
On The Bus
This is another picture of me with my niece. In this picture we are sitting on the bus, at the front of the bus. In a lot of cities, public transportation was very important. It was how so many people got to work and to their homes. Rose Parks was such a phenomenal woman. She broke the "law," but it was for a good reason. People should be able to sit were they please and not be relegated to second-class citizenship.
Organizing In Mississippi
Here is another example of how some of the exhibits are set up. I love that it's a mix of text and Civil Rights movement documents.
We Cannot Afford To Stop
This is one of my favorite pieces to see every time I go to the museum. I just love the messaging behind this part of the museum.
Facing History & Ourselves
There are a ton of murals celebrating the National Civil Rights museum and the Civil Rights movement in general. I love this mural that was beside the museum.
There you have it, my full guide to all things National Civil Rights museum. If you haven't gone to this museum yet, you need to visit it! Tennessee has so many hidden gems. There is a chance that I will do other breakdowns like this for other museums in the coming months. If you want other museum reviews, let me know. I love going in depth and giving you all the details you need to know about places I visit.