Birthplace of Country Music® Museum

The Birthplace of Country Music® Museum, in affiliation with the Smithsonian Institution, will tell the story of our musical heritage. From the Bristol Sessions and beyond, our region continues to influence music around the world.

The 24,000 square foot facility, located at 520 Birthplace of Country Music® Way in Historic Downtown Bristol, houses 12,000 square feet of exhibit space, a rotating exhibit gallery, music mixing and listening stations, multiple theater experiences, and interactive, technology-infused media.BCMM will also host live, year-round performances and educational programming.

Opening August 1, 2014, the museum will be a touchstone for visitors seeking comprehensive knowledge of the music of our region and Bristol's important role in the evolution of recorded music history.

Opening Hours, Pricing & Visitor Information:

Hours of operation will be Tuesday–Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and Sunday 1:00 p.m. — 5:00 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays and major holidays. The museum may be open for extended hours for various events and programs. You should allow approximately two hours so that you can enjoy everything the museum has to offer.

General admission is $14; groups of 20 or more / seniors / military / children 6–17 will get $2 off that rate; and children 5 and under are free. Tour bus drivers are complimentary.

Large groups and tours are invited to book a visiting time; large groups need to be staggered due to the space capacity of our orientation theater. Guided tours of 30 minutes tailored to specific interests can also be scheduled. Specialty interests include: 1) Music: Music history of the Bristol Sessions; 2) Science of Sound: Technology of sound in relation to music recording in the 1920s; and 3) History: Bristol as a cultural and commercial hub in the 1920s. Scheduled tour times will be at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m.

The Birthplace of Country Music Museum is located in Historic Downtown Bristol, Tennessee-Virginia. To complement your visit to the museum, there are a variety of independent shops, art galleries, and restaurants worth a visit along State Street and the neighboring side streets. There are also three self-guided walking tours: Bristol history, Art in Public Places (public sculpture), and the Caterpillar Crawl (for families). Brochures for these walking tours are available at various shops and organizations downtown, and information about events and happenings downtown can be found on the Events Calendar at

Points of Interest in the Birthplace of Country Music Museum:

The Birthplace of Country Music Museum tells the history of the 1927 Bristol Sessions recordings, explores the ways in which sound technology shaped their success and has evolved, and highlights how this rich musical heritage lives on in today’s music. The exhibits are packed with information, images, interactive displays, and media, all working together to bring the exciting story of the music and its heritage alive! Here are just a few highlights to look for:

The foyer sculpture, through a combination of innovative form and vibrant color and image,
celebrates the history and heritage of the 1927 Bristol Sessions.
When the Goodpasture building was being transformed into a museum, clues to its past were
revealed: intact Coca-Cola bottles in a disused elevator shaft and the signs for the
Palace Barber Shop and Tate’s News.
As you go up the stairs to the second floor, take a look at the quilt created for the museum
by the Bristol TN/VA Chapter of the Embroiderers’ Guild of America. With quilt blocks
commemorating blocks from the 1800s to the present day, artistic appliqué panels, and an
adaptation of A. P. Carter’s “Will The Circle Be Unbroken,” this quilt is a beautiful work of art.
Step into the train depot and learn about early arrivals in country music – musicians who
recorded what was to become known as “hillbilly music” before the time of the Bristol Sessions.
The “Bound to Bristol” film in the Orientation Theater sets the stage for the museum visitor
to experience the story of the Bristol Sessions and beyond.
At the “I Was There” station, listen to the stories and hear about the impact that
the Bristol Sessions had on people who were actually there – Ralph Peer, Maybelle Carter,
Ernest V. Stoneman, Clarice Shelor, and Georgia Warren.
Original instruments from the Bristol Sessions are difficult to find, but the museum
showcases iconic instruments similar to those used in the Sessions or from the same time
period, along with signed instruments once owned by Ralph Stanley, Earl Scruggs, and
Bill Monroe, artists impacted by the music of the Sessions.
Music was a part of everyday life in Appalachia – and much of the music of the Sessions
and beyond grew out of the musical traditions in the churches and chapels of this area.
Take a pew in the small chapel and hear local gospel groups speak and sing about how faith
and religion have shaped music and our connection to it.
At the listening stations, you will hear how contemporary musicians from Joan Baez to
Nirvana have arranged some of these classic songs. At the mixing station, you’ll give those
songs new sounds. Turn up the fiddle. Turn down the banjo. The choice is yours!
And at the sing-along station, you can belt it out with family, friends, and fellow visitors.
Bristol’s very own Tennessee Ernie Ford was awarded stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
for recording, radio, and television. With this exhibit, you can see the impact Ford had within
these industries and experience the “Old Pea Picker” persona he created through video clips
and interviews.
In the Immersion Experience area, join along in singing “The Unbroken Circle” as festival
artists perform it on the sweeping, panoramic screen, and better yet, let your feet follow the
music and get your fellow visitors to join in for a dance!
As you head towards the exit doors, take a moment to share your thoughts about and
experience of the museum on the writable wall, and at the ePostcard kiosk, let your friends and
family know: Wish you were here!

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