Music museums throughout the United States celebrate one of humankind’s oldest and most endearing art forms.

As Leonard Bernstein, the American composer, conductor and pianist once put it: “Music can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable.”

Take in all of music’s facets and have some toe-tapping fun at these music museums. The group may be inspired to launch into a singalong on the motorcoach. Ah-one, ah-two, ah-three ….

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Nashville, Tennessee

music museums plaques country music hall of fame and museum
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
Credit: GTM/Kelsey Smith

Explore the beauty and cultural importance of country music in Music City.

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum showcases the genre’s artists, one-of-a-kind recordings, instruments and stage wear.

In the Country Music Hall of Fame Rotunda, inductees’ plaques line the walls.

“Groups visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum can experience the music’s past and present by recording a song at Historic RCA Studio B, co-writing with a Nashville hit maker, or making a poster at Hatch Show Print,” said Dana Romanello, senior manager, tourism and admission sales.

Hatch Show Print is one of the country’s oldest working letterpress poster shops.

“Year after year, groups are truly moved by Historic RCA Studio B,” Romanello said. “For some, the tour and the music transport them back to their youth. For others, it is a firsthand look into the evolution of recording technology and the elements that shaped the sounds that inspired the music they listen to today. This tour really sets the tone for a Nashville experience for guests of all ages.”

Currently all tickets are timed admission. Due to COVID-19, visitors wear masks, practice social distancing, tour in smaller groups and enter the museum according to a pre-arranged, staggered schedule. Cleaning routines have been intensified and expanded. Hatch Show Print and Historic RCA Studio B tours have limited capacity and require a timed reservation.


Motown Museum

Detroit, Michigan

Motown Museum music museums
Studio A, Motown Museum
Credit: GTM/David Hoekman

Visit the very buildings where Berry Gordy and talented artists created the Motown sound in the 1960s.

Known as Hitsville USA, the museum includes Studio A and the restored upper flat where Gordy lived with his young family in Motown Records’ early years. The museum — packed with Motown artifacts and photos — presents the Motown story, sound and style.

Examine Studio A, where The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, the Funk Brothers and countless others recorded their hit records. And be prepared to do some singing and dancing of your own.

Motown Museum
Motown Museum
Credit: GTM/David Hoekman

Photography is now allowed throughout the entire museum.

Tour group sizes have been reduced to a maximum of 10 people due to COVID-19 and enhanced sanitation protocols have been implemented. Hitsville USA is now also Cleanville USA.


Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Cleveland, Ohio

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Credit: GTM/David Hoekman

Master architect I.M. Pei designed the futuristic pyramid on Lake Erie that is the world’s only Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Its seven levels are full of instruments, clothing and interactive displays.

Visitors see one of the most impressive collections of rock ’n’ roll memorabilia ever assembled — from John Lennon’s guitar to hip-hop pioneer Jam Master Jay’s gold chains.

Check out the “Power of Rock Experience” with a 12-minute concert montage by Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme.

The Hall of Fame celebrates all of the rock royalty inducted to date.

Explore the roots of rock, its legends and rock cities. In “Right Here, Right Now,” journey into the stories of popular acts of today.

A number of temporary traveling installations are displayed throughout the year.

“Play It Loud: The Instruments of Rock & Roll” is the largest single exhibit the Rock Hall has ever displayed. Instruments showcased span from 1939 to today and many have never been displayed outside of their original concert performance settings. “Play It Loud” has been extended until the end of 2020.

Advance tickets are required and available online. Masks are required of staff and visitors, and there is limited capacity with timed ticketing.


Musical Instrument Museum

Phoenix, Arizona

Exhibit, Musical Instrument Museum
Credit: Musical Instrument Museum

“Music is the language of the soul” serves as the motto of the museum, which opened in 2010.

The focus at MIM is on instruments played every day by people from all over the world. The collection of more than 8,000 instruments come from more than 200 countries. MIM’s experience also brings these instruments to life through technology that enables visitors to see and hear these instruments in their original cultural settings, like in no other museum in the world.

“The goal of the Musical Instrument Museum is to illuminate what is unique about cultures, and also what is shared and universal,” stated Bob Ulrich, MIM founder and board chair. “MIM provides an experience like none other, allowing musical novices and experts, tourists and scholars, children and grandparents to hear, see, and feel the powerful and uniting force of music in an entirely new way.”

Guided tours are cancelled, and group sizes are limited to no more than 10 people. Guests must wear a face mask covering their nose and mouth. Staff has increased the frequency of disinfecting high-touch and public areas.