The Arts in Music City
Nashville’s love for the creative and performing arts can be seen, heard, and experienced all around Music City. From the fresh and innovative exhibits on display in the galleries that make up 5th Avenue of the Arts to the evocative performances by the Nashville Ballet, there is no shortage of creativity found in Nashville’s art community.
Blair School of Music
Blair School of Music serves as the focal point within Vanderbilt University for the study of music as a human endeavor and as a performing art, addressing music through a broad array of academic, pedagogical, and performing activities. The Blair School maintains and promotes the highest standards in the pursuit of scholarly and creative work, in the delivery of instruction and in the promotion of professional and public service.
Nashville Jazz Workshop
Founded in 1998 with a focus on jazz education, the Nashville Jazz Workshop hosts twice-monthly performances to its offerings; “Snap on 2&4” (on the second and fourth Fridays of each month) as well as other performances throughout the year. The performances take place at the Jazz Workshop, located in the Neuhoff Complex at the end of Monroe Street in East Germantown. The venue has been known to feature nationally-recognized jazz artists as well as top local musicians. With seating for only 100, an unforgettable jazz experience is guaranteed.
Nashville Opera Association
The Nashville Opera Association offers a fully-staged opera production at their 26,000-square-foot Noah Liff Opera Center. Additionally, the Nashville Opera, who seeks to be accessible to the entire community, performs at various locations throughout their season as part of their On Tour educational outreach program.
The spectacular $123-million Schermerhorn Symphony Center boasts 1,844 seats on three levels and features 30 soundproof windows, making it one of the few major concert halls in North America with natural light. The lovely facility also houses a public garden, a gift shop with music-themed items, and a bistro-style cafe.
The Schermerhorn is home to the seven-time GRAMMY® Award-winning Nashville Symphony which has earned an international reputation for its innovative programming and its commitment to performing, recording, and commissioning works by America’s leading composers.
With more than 140 performances annually, the 85-member orchestra offers a broad range of classical, pops, jazz, and children’s concerts, while its extensive education and community engagement programs inspire over 100,000 children and adults each year.
Tennessee Performing Arts Center
The performance venues at TPAC are Andrew Jackson Hall (2,472 seats), James K. Polk Theater (1,075), Andrew Johnson Theater (256), and War Memorial Auditorium (1,661), the historic landmark located across 6th Avenue and the plaza from the Center. Among its many operations, TPAC presents a series of Broadway shows and special engagements, and administers a comprehensive education program.
TPAC is also home to two resident performing arts organizations: Nashville Ballet and Nashville Repertory Theatre. Presenting their work on the stages of TPAC, these organizations are independent of the center.
The performing arts offer some of the best, and perhaps most unexpected, entertainment you’ll find in Music City. Taking center stage at venues all over the city, the performance arts offers something for everyone from a children’s marionette show, a comedy, or an inspiring classical play.
ACT 1, Artists’ Cooperative Theatre, is an organization dedicated to bringing theatrical gems, both classical and modern, to Nashville audiences. ACT 1 has presented productions of more than 100 of the world’s greatest plays.
Actors Bridge Ensemble
Actors Bridge is a training program for new and seasoned actors dedicated to progressive and provocative productions. A group of artists committed to the ensemble’s principle, the Actors Bridge is an incubator for new theatrical works.
Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre
Chaffin’s Barn was Nashville’s first professional theatre. Guests can enjoy dinner while watching professional Broadway-style plays, comedies, and musicals in the MainStage theatre.
Circle Players is the oldest non-profit volunteer arts association in Nashville, and it specializes in presenting and performing musicals and comedies.
GroundWorks Theatre specializes in cutting-edge plays and premiering original productions.
Marionette Shows at the Nashville Public Library
Held throughout the year, marionette productions represent the best of Tom Tichenor’s marionettes and his legacy as a puppeteer at the library for 50 years. They acquired marionettes from Chicago’s Peeko Puppet Productions, as well as new productions developed by the library’s talented children’s staff.
Miss Jeanne’s Mystery Dinner Theatre
Solve a musical-comedic mystery while enjoying a gourmet dinner. Work together with other dinner guests to decipher clues, bribe suspects, and make a guess as to “whodunit.” There are prizes for the winners.
Founded in 1981 as a civic dance company and established as a professional company in 1986, Nashville Ballet has flourished as the only professional ballet company in Middle Tennessee. The Nashville Ballet presents a varied repertoire of classical ballet and contemporary works, while its outreach and community engagement programs are offered throughout the year to schools, businesses, and community groups.
The Martin Center for Nashville Ballet is the organization’s customized facility that serves as a home for their professional dancers, students, and administrative offices. Some performances are held at The Martin Center, but most are held at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Downtown.
Nashville Children’s Theatre
Ranked by TIME magazine as one of the top five children’s theatres in the country, the Nashville Children’s Theatre is the oldest professional, non-profit theatre dedicated exclusively to kids and families in the country. NCT enjoys producing quality performances in its state-of-the-art theatre. NCT also offers camps and classes throughout the year for children of different ages.
Nashville Repertory Theatre
The Rep is Tennessee’s largest professional theatre company. The Rep performs five main-stage and three off- Broadway productions annually in theatres at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center.
OZ Arts Nashville
OZ is a destination for innovative, contemporary art experiences. Housed in a newly-renovated former cigar warehouse, OZ’s modern, flexible performance and installation space enables leading artists from multiple disciplines to present brave new art in a non-traditional context. OZ offers a diverse program of performing and visual art events and inspires curious audiences of all ages..
Real Life Players
Real Life Players is Middle Tennessee’s only teen-owned-and-operated theatre company. Proceeds from Real Life Players productions traditionally benefit a Nashville non-profit organization that impacts youth.
Museums and Art Galleries in Music City
The recent growth of the fine arts scene in Nashville is adding greatly to the city’s creative culture and offering another way for Music City’s heritage to be told.
Aaron Douglas Gallery at Fisk University
Founded in 1866, Fisk University was one of the first private educational institutions offering a secondary liberal arts curriculum to freed slaves. During the mid-1900s, the school determined that aesthetic development was an important part of the education process, and painter/ illustrator Aaron Douglas commissioned the Fisk Murals for the new library in 1930. Douglas later established Fisk’s first formal art department where he served as chairman for over 30 years.
The Aaron Douglas Gallery, a free museum, has become a venue of changing exhibitions highlighting artworks from the University’s permanent collection, as well as temporary exhibitions of artworks loaned by organizations in the art, education, civic, and business areas. The collection contains pre-modern, modern and contemporary paintings, sculptures, photographs, textiles, and prints from a variety of cultures and by many mid-career, established and worldrenowned artists.
Artober Nashville is a month-long celebration of arts and culture in Nashville, designed to inform and inspire the community’s awareness of and participation in the array of activities during the month of October. Artober Nashville is one of the single largest celebrations of the arts and culture in the South and includes hundreds of events in visual, performing arts, music, craft, film, and more.
The Arts Company
Located in a historic building Downtown, The Arts Company is home to contemporary artwork, ranging from photography to painting to sculpture. They welcome works of both emerging and legendary artists, with a focus on local art. The Arts Company also pioneered Fifth Avenue of the Arts as a Downtown destination for art lovers.
The Carl Van Vechten Gallery at Fisk University
Housed in a late 19th century Victorian building, The Carl Van Vechten Gallery was founded when Georgia O’Keeffe donated The Alfred Stieglitz Collection to Fisk University. The collection includes works by O’Keefe, Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne, Auguste-Pierre Renoir, and more. Today, the gallery rotates works from the university’s permanent collections, travelling exhibitions, and The Alfred Stieglitz Collection, which returns to the university every two years.
Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art
Just eight miles southwest of downtown Nashville stands Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art. Cresting the hillside of this 55-acre property is a 1932 mansion where Cheekwood’s permanent art collection is housed. Located in the 30,000-square-foot Georgian-style home are world-class collections of American contemporary painting and sculpture, English and American decorative arts, and renowned traveling exhibitions. Collections also include silver and 350 pieces of the most comprehensive Worcester porcelain collection in America. Cheekwood’s American art collection includes 600 paintings and 5,000 prints, drawings, and photographs, as well as the largest collection of William Edmondson’s sculptures.
The Contemporary Art collection, housed in the galleries created out of the estate’s original garage and stables, includes paintings by Larry Rivers, Andy Warhol, Robert Ryman, and Red Grooms. Additionally, seven small galleries were created in the old horse stable stalls to enable the Museum to display installation art (rarely exhibited in the Southeast). The Woodland Sculpture Trail, comprised of 15 sculptures by regional, national, and international artists, moves the contemporary art collection outdoors. The trail uniquely integrates art into nature.
Cheekwood’s Temporary Contemporary was initiated in 1996 and consists of four solo exhibitions each year. Each show features innovative, influential, and thoughtprovoking works by artists inside the TC gallery. Some exhibitions have installations outside on the estate grounds as well.
Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum
The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum recently unveiled a $100-million expansion in 2013, doubling its size to 350,000 square feet of dynamic state-of-the-art galleries, archival storage, education classrooms, retail stores, and special event space boasting stunning downtown views. The ambitious 210,000-squarefoot expansion, completed in April 2014, includes the 800-seat CMA Theater; the Taylor Swift Education Center— featuring three classrooms and an interactive, hands-on immersion into contemporary country music with the ACM Gallery and the Fred and Dinah Gretsch Family Gallery; the legendary letterpress operation of Hatch Show Print (expanded and relocated inside the museum); and multi-purpose event rental spaces already in high demand.
Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and called the “Smithsonian of country music” because of its unrivaled collection, the museum adds a strikingly modern touch to the Nashville skyline. It is situated at the epicenter of the city’s rapidly growing core, a block from the popular honky tonks of Broadway, across the street from Bridgestone Arena and Music City Center, and adjacent to the Omni Hotel.
David Lusk Gallery
Originally out of Memphis, David Lusk Gallery opened their Nashville gallery location in Wedgewood-Houston, where they represent a small crowd of talented artists. The artists range from those with national reputations to those who have never shown in a gallery before.
First Saturday Art Crawl
Hosted by the Fifth Avenue of the Arts, First Saturday Art Crawl takes place on the first Saturday of each month when multiple downtown galleries open their doors to avid art lovers for a night of art enjoyment.
Frist Center for the Visual Arts
Located in downtown Nashville, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts is the city’s largest art exhibition center. The Frist has no permanent collection, but instead specializes in exhibiting premier collections on loan from other galleries around the world, and curating exhibitions that go on to travel to other museums. Many of the exhibits on display are compiled exclusively for the Frist Center and cannot be seen anywhere else. Located in Nashville’s former historic main post office, this city landmark was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.
Hatch Show Print Haley Gallery
Owned and operated by the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum, Hatch Show Print has been in business since 1879 and is one of the nation’s oldest working letterpress poster shops. Hatch has created original art for circuses, Grand Ole Opry stars, concerts, and sporting events, and continues to produce restrikes of classic Hatch posters in addition to creating new work enjoyed by music fans, graphic designers, and art critics worldwide. The Haley Gallery showcases the historic restrikes of original posters from the Hatch collection, as well as Master Printer Jim Sherraden’s monoprints.
Unique in many ways, Haynes Galleries is the result of Mr. Haynes’s passion for and commitment to the connoisseurship and appreciation of fine art. Haynes Galleries offers a distinguished list of American artists from three centuries – works by important 19th Century artists such as John Singer Sargent and William McGregor Paxton, as well as 20th and 21st Century masters including Yousuf Karsh, Stephen Scott Young, David Brega, and the legendary Wyeth family.
LeQuire Gallery & Studio
The gallery features contemporary paintings, drawings, and sculpture with an emphasis on figurative work. Exhibits change quarterly with work from Alan LeQuire – the nationally recognized sculptor of Musica and Athena Parthenos – always on view.
The Parthenon, the world’s only exact replica of the ancient Greek temple, resides only two miles from downtown Nashville. Inside the temple stands the 42-foot-tall gilded goddess of wisdom, Athena, the western hemisphere’s largest indoor statue. Housed in the downstairs gallery is the city’s permanent art collection. Known as The Cowan Collection, it spans the years 1765-1923. This 63-piece collection emphasizes landscapes and seascapes with techniques ranging from the smooth, almost non-brushstroke of the Neo-classic to the impasto and laded brushwork of Impressionism. All of the artists in this collection were American, and many were members of the National Academy.
The Rymer Gallery
The Rymer Gallery is one of the largest contemporary galleries on Downtown’s Fifth Avenue of the Arts. Reflecting Nashville’s creative community, they display wideranging mediums of art, from a diverse pool of talent and experience.
Sarratt Gallery at Vanderbilt University
The Sarratt Gallery, a free gallery, showcases artists from all over the country, as well as from students and faculty at Vanderbilt. Located in the main lobby of the Sarratt Student Center at Vanderbilt University, shows change each month and include the popular Holiday Arts Festival, which features contemporary crafts by Tennessee artists.
Tennessee State Museum
Free to the public, the Tennessee State Museum is one of the largest state museums in the nation with more than 60,000 square feet of permanent exhibits and a 10,000-square-foot changing exhibition hall. The museum’s interpretive exhibits span 15,000 years of Tennessee’s history during the Prehistoric, Frontier, Age of Jackson, Antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction periods. These sections include special displays of furniture, silver, weapons, quilts, and paintings produced by Tennesseans.
The Tennessee State Museum’s Civil War holdings of uniforms, battle flags and weapons are among the country’s finest. The museum also has many one-of-a-kind items associated with such famous Americans as Andrew Jackson, Daniel Boone, James K. Polk, Andrew Johnson, David Crockett, Sam Houston, Alvin C. York, and Cordell Hull.
Tinney Contemporary is a modern art gallery housed in a chic space on Fifth Avenue of the Arts Downtown. Known for bringing both local and international talent, they rotate exhibits of photography, painting, drawing, and more throughout the year.
Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery
The Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery, a free museum, features a series of engaging exhibitions each year that represent the diversity of artistic production today, as well as throughout the history of Eastern and Western art. In addition to exhibitions drawn from the permanent collection and organized from public and private sources, a number of traveling exhibitions are presented as well.
The University’s permanent collection, totaling more than 5,500 works, serves to illustrate the history of world art in its most creative and comprehensive aspects. This historical art collection is the only one of its kind in the area, serving the needs of students and the community at large. The collection has grown to include strong works in East Asian art, European Old Master paintings, paintings from the Barbizon school, and African, Oceanic, and Pre- Columbian art and artifacts.
The gallery’s most recent addition to their permanent collection was a donation of approximately 150 original Andy Warhol photographs and prints. This collection helps to strengthen the Gallery’s growing collection of 20th century art.
Founded in 1994, Zeitgeist is a beacon of art in the Nashville community. Started by owner Janice Zeitlin in Cummins Station it has served as a cultivation ground for new artists and a safe place for established artists to experiment and grow. Under the direction of Lain York, Zeitgeist maintains a firm place in the Nashville art scene today. Bridging the gap between collectors and creators, Zeitgeist provides a venue for world class shows in the south.