Frequently Asked Questions
Need to know more about free parking at the museum or how much time to allow for taking a tour? We’ve answered some of your most frequently asked questions for you!
What are the museum hours?
The museum is open Tuesday—Saturday, 10am—6pm and Sunday, 1—5pm. We are closed on Mondays and major holidays (check out our Facebook page for specific holiday hours).
How much is museum admission?
Tickets to the museum are $13.65 for adults; $11.55 for seniors, college students, military, and children ages 6—17, and groups of 20+. Children 5 and under are free. Admission prices include Bristol Virginia admission tax.
How much time should I allow for my visit?
We recommend allowing at least 1 ½ to 2 hours to visit the permanent exhibits, and at least half an hour for any special exhibits. Giving yourself this much time means that you will have ample opportunity to participate in the many films, interactives, and sound experiences, and also to fully appreciate the text, images and artifacts on display.
Can I leave the museum and come back in on the same day?
Your ticket gives you admission to the museum for the full day so if you want to leave for a lunch or shopping break and then come back on the same day, you are welcome to do so!
Can I visit The Museum Store without paying admission?
Yes. You are welcome to shop in The Museum Store without visiting the museum.
Can I take pictures or videos in the museum?
The museum allows still photography for non-commercial use only. Video and flash photography are not permitted, and we also ask that you do not use tripods or monopods for safety reasons. We encourage you to share your personal photos from your visit to the museum on social media, tagging the Birthplace of Country Music Museum (@BCMM, #BCMBristol, #BristolRhythm). If you are a commercial photographer, please contact our staff (email@example.com) to discuss permission for taking photographs in the museum.
What is your cell phone policy?
The Birthplace of Country Music Museum is very proud of its state-of-the-art sound design and so to provide the best audio experience, we ask that visitors move outside to make or take cell phone calls.
Is the museum handicap accessible? Are wheelchairs available?
We hope to bring music to all audiences, and we will do everything we can to accommodate our visitors. All exhibit spaces and theaters are wheelchair accessible, and all of the films are closed captioned. We have an elevator and we have three wheelchairs available on a first-come, first-served basis. If you have any special needs and would like to discuss these before your visit, please call us on 423-573-1927 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can I bring a service animal to the museum? What about other animals?
The Birthplace of Country Music Museum adheres to the rules and guidelines outlined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and allows only service animals – i.e. animals that have been trained to perform needed tasks for an individual with a disability – into the museum. A service animal must be under control while in the museum, and if the animal begins behaving in a disruptive or aggressive manner, the handler and the service animal may be required to leave. Because comfort, therapy or emotional support animals are not classified as service animals by the ADA, they are not permitted in the museum. If you have any special needs you would like to discuss before your visit or have any questions about this policy, please email us at email@example.com or call us on 423-573-1927.
What can I bring with me into the museum?
Small purses, diaper bags, and strollers are welcome in the museum. Please do not bring outside food or drink with you for your visit; water bottles with tight-fitting lids are allowed, but may not be opened in the museum galleries. If you get hungry or thirsty during your visit, we are conveniently located downtown within walking distance of several restaurants, a bakery, and several breweries. Your museum wristband is good for the entire day, even if you choose to leave and return on the same day. Use of tobacco products, tobacco substitutes (i.e. vaporizers), and firearms in the museum building is strictly prohibited.
Where can I park?
There is ample parking in Historic Downtown Bristol and near the museum. A free city parking lot is available across the street from the museum on the opposite corner of Cumberland and Moore Streets. Free two-hour street parking can be found along Cumberland Street, Moore Street and Birthplace of Country Music Way. There is also a paid city parking lot (honor box system) on the corner of Cumberland Street and Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard – it is located across from the historic train station and is only a short walk to the museum. State Street and the nearby side streets also offer free one or two-hour on-street parking during business hours.
Do you offer group tours?
We offer tours to groups who schedule in advance. For our adult and motor coach groups, we offer two levels of guided tour: a shorter introductory tour and a one-hour tour; both guided tours give ample time afterwards to explore the many multimedia aspects of the museum and to visit the Special Exhibits Gallery. Tours focus primarily on Music History stemming from the Bristol Sessions; if your group has a specific interest, such as Technology and the role it played in the Bristol Sessions and the development of country music or History of Bristol as a hub for Appalachian music and culture from 1927 until today, we can bring these topics more fully into the tour.
Guided group tours must be scheduled in advance and are available from 10:30am Tuesday—Saturday and from 1:30pm on Sunday. To schedule an adult or motor coach group tour, discuss your group’s needs, and learn about special group rates, please contact 423-573-1927 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, with the date, time, and focus of the tour you desire or email email@example.com.
Do you offer general visitor tours?
We do not offer general visitor drop-in tours at this time, though we have gallery assistants and frontline staff who are available for questions and to help you during your visit. We hope to offer daily drop-in tours in the future.
Do you offer special discounts for school groups?
The museum offers special discounts for school groups. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more and schedule a tour for your school group.
Are there any special events going on when I am visiting?
The museum hosts a variety of educational programs, music performances, workshops, lectures, films, and community events throughout the year. For a listing of museum events, check out our museum events calendar.
What benefits come from museum membership?
There are several different levels of museum membership – students, seniors, individuals, couples, and family. Benefits include unlimited museum visits during your membership year, discounts in The Museum Store, one-day passes to share with others, and special email notification of events, sales, and more. For more information about museum membership or to become a member, go to our Membership page.
Is there nearby food and lodging?
The Birthplace of Country Music Museum is located in Historic Downtown Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia. There are a variety of restaurants along nearby State Street and the neighboring side streets – from barbecue and burgers to bistro food and Italian, all within walking distance of the museum. A full listing and details for the downtown restaurants can be found on the Believe in Bristol website. The Bristol Convention and Visitors Bureau has a listing of local hotels, motels, and camping sites.
Do you offer a AAA discount?
We do not offer an AAA discount.
Why is Bristol called the birthplace of country music? I thought that was Nashville, TN?
In 1927, Ralph Peer, a record producer from Victor Talking Machine Company, traveled to Bristol, Tennessee/ Virginia and set up a portable recording studio in the Taylor-Christian Hat Company on State Street. Over the course of two weeks, Peer recorded 76 songs by 19 different acts, including The Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, and Ernest “Pop” Stoneman – recordings that were influential in shaping the sounds and practices of early commercial country music.
While there were early country music recordings prior to the Bristol Sessions, particularly in New York and Atlanta, the Bristol recordings were the largest sessions at the time and met with huge commercial success. Later musicians and scholars have acknowledged and celebrated their impact on country music and beyond, and based on this music heritage, Bristol was designated as the “Birthplace of Country Music” by the states of Tennessee and Virginia, a designation later recognized by the US Congress.
Country music recording moved in later decades to Nashville, and the city also became significant due to the Grand Ole Opry.
Where was the 1927 Bristol Sessions recording site?
Unfortunately the site of the Bristol Sessions recordings – the Taylor-Christian Hat Company building – no longer exists. However, you can visit a commemorative plaque at its original location at 416 State Street, Bristol, Tennessee. The building where the 1928 Bristol Sessions were recorded is still standing, and you can see it on Bank Street (the alley between the Paramount Bristol and Misty Mountain on State Street).
Do you accept artifact donation?
The Birthplace of Country Music Museum does accept artifact donations. For more information on donating or loaning items to the museum, go to our Donating Artifacts page.
What does being a Smithsonian Affiliate mean?
The Smithsonian website says: “Smithsonian Affiliations is a national outreach program that develops long-term, collaborative partnerships with museums, educational, and cultural organizations to enrich communities with Smithsonian resources. There are more than 200 Smithsonian Affiliates in more than 40 states, Puerto Rico and Panama.” As a Smithsonian Affiliate, we have access to a vast range of Smithsonian resources that we can share with our visitors – from educational materials and traveling exhibitions to expertise and artifact loans. It also means that we have a network of other museums to tap into for resources, and that we can share our own story more widely. We are proud to have access to these opportunities and are always looking for ways to bring a range of interesting Smithsonian exhibitions, programs, resources, and objects to our community.