There’s something to be said for a city that encourages its residents to create. From the galleries along historic South Main to the colorful mural-covered walls of Downtown, one thing is clear: Memphis arts are alive and well. Whether you’re a longtime Memphian trying to dig deeper into the local art scene or a visitor looking for a quick glimpse of the Memphis art world, here’s our list of the places you simply have to check out:
Situated in historic Overton Park, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art was founded in 1916 and houses the oldest and largest major collection of world art in Tennessee. The museum features more than 10,000 works from Ancient Greek and Roman artists, Renaissance masters, early American painters, cutting-edge art world disruptors and more.
The student-run Box Gallery is one of the premier places for Memphis art students to display their work. Located on the first level of the Arts & Communication building on the University of Memphis campus, it’s the best place to check out the works of young up-and-coming artists in Memphis.
Dixon Gallery and Gardens
When Hugo and Margaret Dixon founded the Dixon Gallery and Gardens in 1976, they combined an expansive fine art museum with a beautifully manicured public garden. Spanning 17 acres in the heart of Memphis, the garden and arboretum offer spectacular natural scenery, while the museum is home to more than 2,000 works ranging from French impressionist paintings to a 600-piece collection of German decorative porcelain.
Withers Collection Museum and Gallery
Celebrating the lifelong work of Memphis-born photographer Ernest Withers, the Withers Collection Museum and Gallery preserves and displays this legendary artist’s priceless portfolio. Withers, who spent much of his life as a photojournalist, passed away in 2007, leaving behind a legacy of work that captures 60 years of African American history in the South.
You don’t have to go to a museum or gallery to see great art in Memphis, as urban art is everywhere. From the Artery Murals in Barboro Alley to Main Street’s Sound of Memphis Mural, the dozens of spectacular murals in our city make up one of America’s most impressive collections of street art.
As the only museum in the United States devoted entirely to metalwork, the Metal Museum boasts a huge array of architectural ironwork, jewelry and sculpture, and regularly hosts exhibits by nationally and internationally renowned metalsmiths. The Metal Museum’s grounds come complete with 100-year-old trees and stunning outdoor sculptures, and are open to the public free of charge. Did we mention that this museum offers one of the city’s best views of the Mississippi River?
Memphis Botanic Garden
Spanning 96 stunning acres of meadows, trees, ponds and gardens, the landscape at the Memphis Botanic Garden is a work of art in itself—one that you can immerse yourself in any day of the week. Meanwhile, on-site galleries at the Memphis Botanic Garden show off an ever-changing lineup of exhibits by local and national artists.
Flicker Street Studio
The classes and workshops at Flicker Street Studio prove that art is for everyone. The studio offers an opportunity to explore and create virtually every kind of art under the sun, from drawing and painting to printmaking and bookbinding. Flicker Street is a great place to learn and develop your artistic skills in a nurturing environment, while being supervised by some of Memphis’ most accomplished local artists.
For Memphis makers, musicians, artists and creators of all kinds, there’s no better place to call home than our fair city. If you’re ready to start exploring art in Memphis, you’ll find it everywhere you turn.
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