It's All About the Music at the Blues Hall of Fame

It's All About the Music at the Blues Hall of Fame

Memphis has an amazing way to learn about the blues, the Blues Foundation's Blues Hall of Fame museum downtown. The museum is full of music you can listen to, objects and artifacts, photos. It's the best way to immerse yourself in the the Memphis and Delta Blues and all the amazing people who contributed to the art form.

The record-decorated sidewalk and life-size bronze statue of Little Milton make for a pretty eye-catching front to the museum, which is right across from the grassy plaza in front of the National Civil Rights Museum.

view of Blues Hall of Fame exterior with blue lights and Little Milton Statue
Andrea Zucker
wooden floor of blues hall of fame photo gallery space
Lisa Mac

A Visit To The Blues Hall of Fame In Downtown Memphis

The front room is a gallery space that hosts rotating exhibits, mostly photography of blues artists. As of summer 2021, the new photography exhibit is Into The Light: The Music Photography of Jérôme Brunet with portraits of blues musicians like B.B. King and Etta James.

There's also a small listening area, and tucked away to the side—a signed B.B. King guitar on the wall.

Jerome Brunet Exhibit featuring photo of BB King

Above photo provided by the Blues Foundation.


After you get your ticket at the counter, you step down into the museum proper. It's filled with the kinds of photos, artifacts, and memorabilia that you'd expect. But it all seems exceptionally well-curated. I could have lingered over each item; everything has a little color or quirk or story to it.

These amorous lyrics were especially cool to see.

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The thing that you wouldn't necessarily expect is how much listening is a part of the experience. Each exhibit nook has an interactive touch screen where you can search by song and artist to hear not a narration or a clip, but full-length tracks. Some of the screens have videos.

At the end of the first hall, there are two private listening booths. The front desk attendant says that by the time the Blues Foundation finishes uploaded songs to the database, there will be between 300 and 400 tracks available for listening. You could seriously spend hours in there.

Next, there's a literal hall of fame, listing all 150 or so inductees.The other inductees are writers and industry professionals that have contributed to "keeping the blues alive" in one way or another.

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What is the Blues Foundation?

It's an organization dedicated to the preservation blues music, history, and education. They manage a ton of programs, including the Hall of Fame, Blues Music Awards, and the International Blues Challenge that takes place every January.

They also support a funds for blues musicians in need, scholarships to send young musicians to camps, and education programs for schools. You can find out more about becoming a member here.

Folk art, which has a lot of ties to blues music, is incorporated throughout the exhibits as well.

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father and son in front of exhibit at the blues hall of fame
Lisa Mac

Blues Hall of Fame Hours And Ticket Prices

Blues Hall of Fame Hours:

Monday and Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday - Saturday: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sunday: 1 p,m.. - 5 p.m.

Blues Hall of Fame Tickets:

Tickets are $10 for adults ages 12 and up. Children under 12 are admitted for free.

The Blues HOF is ADA accessible. There is usually street metered parking. I'd set aside 45 minutes to an hour to see the Blues Hall of Fame museum, more if you're taking advantage of all the listening opportunities.

Go there:

Blues Hall of Fame
421 South Main Street
Memphis Tennessee 38103
(901) 527-2583

blues.org/hall-of-fame

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