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Memphis Metal Museum Memphis Tennessee

Updated on November 14, 2015
The Memphis Metal Museum and the National Ornamental Metal Museuml.
The Memphis Metal Museum and the National Ornamental Metal Museuml. | Source
5 stars for Memphis Metal Museum

Kicking and Screaming

Have you ever gone kicking and screaming someplace to be totally overwhelmed by what you found when you got there? Dad usually visit us, but his days of traveling may be over. So here we are in Millington, Tennessee for the second time in six months. There is no internet at Dad's. Dial-up doesn't even work the phone system is so rural. (Dial-up would probably make me mad anyway.) If Memphis were home it would be one thing, but it isn't. Dad moved here to be near his siblings. He was born and reared in Nebraska; all of his children were reared in Chicago and Detroit. Now he has kids in California, Michigan and Massachusetts. Tennessee us a foreign place to us.

Dad's oldest brother met a gal when he was stationed in Millington,Tennessee during Korea. Then his oldest sister married a guy in Chicago whose family was from Mississippi and they moved south. Grammy a Grandpa moved south when grandpa retired. The rest followed them. I am a native of Californian.( Dad is my father-in-law of 35 years) Memphis is culture shock for both my husband and I. We have been to Graceland twice, it isn't in the budget this trip.

The museum wild life.
The museum wild life. | Source

Last year when we were here were in Tennessee we talked to the local librarian about interesting things to do in the area. She recommended a metal museum that overlooked the Mississippi River. She said, "If you only wandered around the grounds it is free". I was excited about the prospect of exploring this area by the river, but I was on crutches, it was raining and nobody in the family knew what I was talking about. Actually they went so far as to give me a funny look and say "This isn't really a good area to go wondering about without some specific destination".

This was a mystery I intended to solve. Why would a librarian send me to a shady part of town on purpose? Well, we got home and that was a far as I got with the idea. We had another trip to Tennessee planned for April. I planned to look up this place before we left. That was as far as I got. Most of the time goggling is no big thing. The computer follows me all over the world. Remember, we don't have internet at the house, but some things are meant to be.


Back in Tennessee; wondering how to discover the information on the metal museum and kicking myself for not researching before leaving my internet at home I could find no one who had any idea what I was talking about.

The plan of the day was mowing the front lawn. Dad has a riding mower which I love. We relax more in Tennessee than any place we go. Since there is no hurry to mow, I read the paper over a second cup of coffee. Before my eyes in the, "Commercial Appeal", is an article about the Memphis Metal Museum. Oh! Oh! Oh! Dad and my husband look at me like I am a lunatic. There is a special event on Sunday and all the information is there. The Dad's lawn doesn't really need mowing that badly. Ready, set, go!

I drag my poor husband into Memphis to see the Memphis Metal Museum.

The mystery solved,the best adventure in Memphis is about to begin.

Missisippi River

Bridge between Memphis, Tennessee and West Memphis Arkansas.
Bridge between Memphis, Tennessee and West Memphis Arkansas. | Source

The Mighty Mississippi

I have always been enthralled by rivers you can't swim across. California rivers are not wide. The Sacramento River is large enough for ocean going ships to travel from San Francisco Bay to Stockton, but you can still swim across most of it.

Just about anything that has to do with travel excites me. My imagination takes me to Mark Twain's Mississippi riverboats and ladies in long skirts.

This day will be wonderful if for no other reason than we can sit in the gazebo at the museum, drink coffee, watch the river traffic.

Despite the overcast it is a pleasantly warm Memphis morning. The the flowers are in full bloom and their scents are sweet, just as you would expect on a southern spring morning.

Over looking the river is a beautiful gazebo, an example of some of the creations made here.
Over looking the river is a beautiful gazebo, an example of some of the creations made here. | Source

My husband's Grandpa flew into San Francisco from Memphis years ago to attend a family wedding. Dad and his wife were flying in from Saint Louis about an hour later. It was in the days where you could still meet your family at the gate. Not working that day I was elected to meet him. Married to his grandson, I had only met him once. I had no problem finding him, we sat at the gate and he began to tell me the latest family news, Then Grandpa began telling me all about trotline fishing on the Mississippi. I had never heard of such a thing. I had no idea how to catch catfish. I was amazed by the whole explanation. Everyone else was amazed Grandpa had talked so much. He lived just a mile from the river, so it was his subject. While I didn't know if I wanted to run a trotline, I did know I wanted to see his part of the Mighty Mississippi.


We Rounded The Curb

Today, that dream of seeing grandpa's Mississippi river is coming true.

Plugged the address into the G.P.S. and off we went. We went passed the Martin Luther King Museum, turned off the main street rounded the curb and drove into another era; I wouldn't have been surprised to see a lady, in a hoop skirt, walking down the street holding the arm of a soldier. The Calvary would be there too. Maybe even Indians.

Iron workers were here long before the museum.
Iron workers were here long before the museum. | Source

Memphis Comes Alive

On the bluffs of this amazing river Memphis came to be the largest city in the west. There was a time when it was the last outpost of civilization.

Memphis today is way more than the town where Martin Luther King Jr was killed. It is way more than, Beal Street, the home of The Blues.

The Chickasaw Indians built amazing mounds here on the banks of the Mississippi River. During the Civil War these mounds were hollowed out to make a defense for the union soldiers. Memphis, Tennessee was visited by the Spanish explorer Hernadaz De Soto long before King Cotton and racial tension. It was here the glory of the old south unexpectedly came alive for me.

Flights of fancy throughout the grounds.
Flights of fancy throughout the grounds. | Source

The Grounds

Entering the National Metal Museum the detail of the ornate metal gates catch your eye. Then the garden draws you in. Beauty and wimsey delight you everywhere in the garden.

The Memphis Arkansas bridge is a compass to where you are in Memphis,
The Memphis Arkansas bridge is a compass to where you are in Memphis, | Source

The Museum Compound

The Museum compound includes four old Marine Hospital buildings which, were part of Fort Pickerings. There is a guest residence for visiting artists, the main museum, the library and the blacksmith shop. To enter the museum and the library there is a fee.

  • Adults are $6.00
  • Seniors are $5..00
  • Students with valid ID $4.00
  • Children 5 and above $4.00
  • Children under 5 free

Artists Guest House

Artists Guest House
Artists Guest House | Source

Working Smithy

In the blacksmith shop we're delighted when the smith came over to show us his portfolio and the dinning table he was creating. The base looks like the main branch of a tree. The top will be a slab of oak. It is stunning. Here the Smithies are commissioned to make things like this. Ornamental ironwork is sent from around the world to be repaired here. I love the cats on the property. Their food and water is in the blacksmith shop.

Kitty Looks Like Part Of Display


Black Smith Shop


The Museum


Exhibits In The Museum Are Modern And Change Regularly


Permanant Displays In The Library

The library has an enormous number of books on alchemy. According to Merriam Webster alchemy is a power or process of transforming something common into something special. Transforming plain iron into intricate designs is certainly magic. Students from around the world come to study in this library.

The hand rails, fire grates, and doors of the library building are beautifully decorated iron work. The displays are permanent there.

Library Displays


Chickasaw Park

The day was pleasantly warm and humid, but it was lunch time and we nearly by passed the park across the street from the Museum. Luckily, curiosity over came hunger; it would have been shameful to miss the park. Chickasaw Park presented us with a great history lesson of the area.

The Chickasaw Indians were the first to inhabit these bluffs. Later the Indians would meet the explorer Desoto, and eventually the United States Army would make this area the largest western outpost in the Country. Fort Pickering was staffed by the Union Army during the civil war Union. Union ships sailed up the Mississippi river and swiftly defeated the Confederate Army in the battle of Memphis. It was probably here the first Memphis race(1866) riots ensued. The people of Memphis were not pleased free slaves had status in society. After the civil war Fort Pickering was totally demolished. You see in the park the remains of the Indian mounds.

Indian Mound

Indian mound later gun emplacement.
Indian mound later gun emplacement. | Source

This adventure to the The Memphis Mental Museum was one of the best adventures to venture into in Memphis. The museum is just south of the Tennessee Arkansas bridge, on the banks of the Mississippi River. You will pass signs for the Civil Rights Museum as you head toward the river, but keep going toward the river.

The area around the metal works brings to the history of Memphis,Tennessee alive.

A mere 150 years ago, Memphis was the largest city on the Mississippi. This is the area the original colony was supposed to have been. The Indians thought this was a good place, as did the Union Army during the Civil War the original Fort Pickering was totally destroyed during racial riots. .

Wondering around in the buildings, or the grounds of this museum was fun, beautiful, relaxing and interesting. This is so much more than just a museum. N.O.M.O.M. is an art school that attracts students from around the world. It is the treasure of Memphis.

Remember, stop at Starbucks and bring a cup of coffee to sip as you sit and watch the river traffic.


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    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 5 years ago from California

      unknown spy this is truly on of the places about Memphis I will miss now that my dad is gone.

      Thelma, hope you can fit this into your trip. Don't forget to have a cup of coffee while watching the river traffic.

    • ThelmaC profile image

      Thelma Raker Coffone 5 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      Very interesting hub and great pictures. Enjoyed reading it!

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 5 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      you captured really great shots of this wonderful place. i never heard of metal museum before but would like to visit one someday.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 5 years ago from California

      Remember when you go to bring a thermos of tea or coffee. There is nothing like sitting for awhile watching the river.

    • profile image

      Deb Welch 5 years ago

      My daughter lives a couple of hours away from Memphis - I will remember this Museum - went to Graceland last year and plan to return. Very nicely done this Hub in review, beautiful and interesting pix. I loved the gazebo always my favorite kind of shelter.

    • RBJ33 profile image

      RBJ33 5 years ago

      Forgive me for my lateness - I am on a quest to visit each of my followers and read selective hubs and comment.

      I'm embarrassed becasuse I cannot think of the hotel's name in downtown Memphis with the ducks. Every day at precisly noon the elevator opens on the main floor and out march the ducks. In single file they march on a red carpet to a fountain in the lobby where they remain all day swimming. It was started many yeara ago by some men as a prank. I admit it was several years ago that I witnessed the marching ducks and I hope it is still going on.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 6 years ago from California

      Gregory- these are also the last bluffs on the Mississippi until Vicksburg. Didn't get to any of the non-highways you mentioned, but I finally looked at a map and realized that 240 circles the city completely. That one had me scratching my head.

      Tillsontitian- The intricate pieces of metal work were spectacular.This museum isn't really my cup of tea, but the grounds and the blacksmith shop were fascinating were amazing. Come to think of it the librarian who recommended MMM only mentioned the grounds.

      Valllur- nice to see you.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 6 years ago from California

      Vallur, there is indeed something enthralling about metal works.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 6 years ago from California

      MsDora, you can travel with me any time :)

      Sueswan, we talked to Dad today and he's doing well, so we won't be going back for awhile, but I can hardly wait to visit MMM again to sit and watch the river traffic.

    • profile image

      Sueswan 6 years ago

      Hi Tirelesstraveler

      I have been to Memphis a couple of times. I have been to Graceland, and Sun Studios. I did not know about the Metal Museum.

      I can see myself sitting by the river sipping tea and watching the river traffic.

      Voted up an away

      Take care :)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 6 years ago from The Caribbean

      I love it when other hubbers take me with them as they discover beautiful sights I will never see otherwise. I share your fascination with rivers. Thanks for this beautiful hub!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 6 years ago from New York

      This was very interesting. I wasn't sure I wanted to read it at first - Memphis Metal Museum - wasn't really my thing, but I was pleasantly surprised. Not only was your writing entertaining and interesting but the pictures were lovely. If I'm ever near there I would certainly have to visit this museum! Voted up, interesting and awesome.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      This is a great hub. The pictures are beautiful. I have been to Memphis, not the museum. I went to see Johnny Cash perform. Thank you for sharing..Enjoyed..

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 6 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      In my area, we are blessed to have the Griffis Sculpture Park, which is a huge Park of only metal sculptures. I enjoy any hub promoting the arts. If I am ever in Tennessee, I will make sure and visit this museum.

    • Gregory Hasman 66 profile image

      Gregory Hasman 6 years ago from Denton TX

      Very interesting. The bridge is the Memphis and Arkansas Bridge, which, as the name indicates, separates Memphis and the Arkansas state line. I have never been to Memphis, but a few months back traveled to Vicksburg and Clarksdale (which is 90 miles southwest of Memphis), Mississippi.

      The museum is very interesting. Did you enjoy traveling the non-interstate highways like US 64, US 72 and US 70?

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 6 years ago from Dubai

      Metal museum sounds great. Photos are great. Metals always interest me.Enjoyed reading.


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