Nashville proudly boasts a multifaceted culture evident in its many art museums, galleries, botanical gardens, and historic theatres. Intent on enriching the community, these great cultural institutions share entertainment through visual art and live performances that are a hit with all ages. As the temperatures soar, sending you indoors, dip your toes into the city’s art and culture at these seven institutions ideal for family visits. Varied experiences and exposure to the visual and performing arts will stimulate young imaginations — and yours.


Cheekwood Estate & Gardens

The most awe-inspiring 55 acres in all of Nashville, Cheekwood Estate & Gardens invites everyone to encounter art, gardens, and history, all of which live on the historic estate. Visual interest and educational opportunities abound in Cheekwood’s gardens dedicated to showcasing colorful flowers, herbs, and native and tropical plants. The Wills Perennial Garden peaks each summer, when “the succession of color culminates with asters, salvias, perennial sunflowers, rudbeckias, and ornamental grasses,” and each summer, the Burr Terrace Garden “presents a sea of color with summer phlox, purple coneflower, and vibrant summer annuals.” Read more about Cheekwood’s gardens here.

This summer, enjoy a break from the beating sun and cool off in Cheekwood’s Museum of Art Galleries. The museum’s current exhibition, Childhood Classics: 100 Years of Children’s Book Illustrations, is targeted at both children and adults. Familiar and fondly remembered characters will excite imaginations of every age.

First Friday Art Scene in Franklin

If you find yourself in Franklin on the first Friday of the month, explore the many galleries and studios that open their doors for The Franklin Art Scene. This month, experience the art at more than 20 locations, including the works of Bo Rinehart (of NEEDTOBREATHE) showcased at Franklin Road Apparel Company. Also, keep your eye out for photos from the winners of the 2019 My Historic Franklin Photo Contest that will be on display.


Event Details for this Friday:

  • Friday, July 5th
  • 6 – 9 pm
  • Address: 508 W Main St, Franklin, TN 37064
  • Admission is free


Country Music Hall of Fame

Outdoor concerts encourage families to relish the sounds of Music City, from classical to country. Those who tap their toes to country might enjoy the medley of history and music found at Country Music Hall of Fame. Rhinestone costumes, well-loved instruments, and even Elvis’ Gold Cadillac will wow country newbies and seasoned fans, alike. The museum’s collection of more than 2.5 million artifacts, plus scavenger hunts, interactive exhibits, and youth and family programs in the Taylor Swift Education Center, will keep young minds occupied for hours.

Programming details can be found here.


Frist Art Museum

Famed for displaying notable works of art and rotating exhibitions ranging from fashion to photography to Frida Kahlo’s paintings, Frist Art Museum is the centerpiece of the city’s arts community. The museum is also renowned for its Martin ArtQuest gallery, which combines education and entertainment for children, within the context of the arts. In the gallery, hands-on activity is a priority. Budding Picassos and O’Keeffes can experiment in drawing, animation, printmaking, painting, and sculpture. Museum admission for children under the age of 18 is free, and on the second Monday of each month, one adult admission covers the entire family for Family Mondays. Storytime and family tours are offered on these days.


Nashville Ballet

For many, “The Nutcracker” is an introduction to the ballet — the magic of motion amidst Christmas splendor delights even the youngest spectators. But beyond that are additional ways to expose children and teens to the art of dance. Peter & the Wolf is another family-friendly production, premiering this fall. The show is designed to spark the imagination and engage a young audience while sneaking in an educational element.

In the meantime, summer programs catering to ages 2-18 provide a taste of ballet. “Children gain an appreciation for the classic art form by learning about each ballet’s plot, practicing choreography, acting out the story, making crafts, watching video performances of Nashville Ballet’s productions and of course, taking ballet classes,” the Nashville Ballet promises.

Scheduling for the children’s summer programs can be found here.

Photo by Tim Nichols

Franklin Theatre

Venture out to visit Nashville’s more laid-back neighbor, Franklin, for a day at the theatre. The historic Franklin Theatre has been a cultural showplace for shy of a century, bringing films to the big screen that leave theatre-goers spellbound. Cinematic showings, of new and timeless films, run alongside live performances of music and live theatre. The well-rounded events calendar caters to children and adults, with movies the likes of The Lego Movie and Sherlock Holmes, as well as a July performance of Disney’s Frozen Jr. presented by the Act Too Players youth performers.

Keep an eye on the calendar for more upcoming events.

Tennessee State Museum

The new Tennessee State Museum, with a mission “to provide exhibitions and programs for the educational and cultural enrichment of the citizens of the state,” is quickly becoming a cultural attraction. Permanent exhibitions explore the long history of the state, the Civil War and Reconstruction, natural history, and prominent names in modern history; the current temporary exhibitions take a closer look at quilting, art in Tennessee, the state’s musical heritage, and the Great War.

A dedicated Children’s Gallery promotes hands-on play and discovery for those ages three to eight. “Our children need to learn American history and Tennessee history, so they can grow up knowing what it means to be an American and a Tennessean. Learning history helps to understand what is happening today and helps to navigate tomorrow,” U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander stated during his keynote address at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

There is no admission charge to the Tennessee State Museum’s permanent and temporary exhibitions.