The Birthplace of Country Music Museum opened its doors in August 2014 as a partnership between Virginia and Tennessee. The Smithsonian affiliate is dedicated to preserving and promoting the rich musical heritage of Bristol and its impact on the development of country music. It’s the site of what’s called the “big bang” of country music, or the 1927 Bristol Sessions recordings.
The Bristol Sessions were organized by Ralph Peer, a talent scout and record producer, who set up a makeshift recording studio in Bristol in 1927. During these sessions, several influential country music artists, including the Carter Family (relatives of future singer June Carter Cash) and Jimmie Rodgers, made some of their earliest recordings.
The museum features exhibits, artifacts, interactive displays, and multimedia presentations that tell the story of the Bristol Sessions and the evolution of country music. Highlights include Ernest Tubb’s “Thanks” guitar and an area where you can listen to the original 1927 recordings.
In addition to its exhibits, the museum also hosts educational programs, live performances, and events to engage visitors and celebrate the cultural heritage of country music. A recent temporary exhibit focused on the role of women in the musical genre.
Tips for Visiting the Birthplace of Country Music Museum
The Birthplace of Country Music Museum is located at 101 Country Music Way, Bristol, VA 24201. The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm and Sunday from 1 to 5 pm.
Tickets are $13 for adults, $11 for students, seniors, and military, and free for children under 5. There is abundant parking on the street outside the museum as well as across the street in a city parking lot.