Tina Turner Museum West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center
Four museums in one right at the highway
Free entry / donation expected
Original Tina Turner building
Great collection of items
On my very final stage on the road to the 2019 CMA Fest in Nashville, visiting the West Tennessee Heritage Center was the first stop I took en route. The place hosts several museums in one. The most important ones are linked to musical legends. If you are into blues, you will love to see the original house of John Adams “Sleepy John” Estes. As a music lover in general, you likely cannot do different than loving the Tina Turner Museum.
West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center – Location
West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center is located directly at the I-40 Interstate between Memphis and Nashville, #56 Brownsville exit. The next major city is Jackson TN. There are a lot of services like restaurants, gas stations and hotels around, the place is however well signposted, so that you cannot miss it. If you are coming from Memphis, this would also be the exit to drive to Nutbush, Tina Turner’s birthplace. However, there are not too many sights you may explore in the tiny village.
Entrance to the Heritage Center is free, it even offers free coffee. However, a donation is recommended. Opening times are 9:00 to 17:00 hrs Monday to Saturday and 13:00 to 17:00 on Sundays.
West TN Delta Heritage Center – Visitor Center
First of all, the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center is a Visitor Center, i.e. you find a lot of brochures and information about the regional attractions and activities. The staff was extremely friendly and helpful. I just grabbed a couple of brochures, assuming that the rest of my day and the CMA Fest Days will be quite busy. There is even a small souvenir store.
West TN Delta Heritage Center – Indoor Museums
While the two major attractions are right outside the Visitor Center building, the four minor museums are inside.
West Tennessee Cotton Museum
If you haven’t been at a cotton museum before, this place is really interesting. It gives compact, but very charming overview about the processing of cotton, from the plantation to the processing and spinning. By that, it was even more comprehensive than the Ratingen-Cromford Textile Factory Musum near Cologne I visited in summer 2018. Of course, the exhibition can just give an overview and not display details.
West Tennessee Music Museum
The whole CMA Fest trip, especially between Chattanooga and Nashville, was full of references to musical history – so the small exhibition of West Tennessee musical legends was a nice add-on. Again, the organizers made nice use of limited space. Of course, there are also exhibits featuring Elvis Presley.
Hatchie River Museum
It is just amazing – the Heritage Center also hosts a small aquarium, displaying some fish local to this area. There are also some related exhibits. Thereby, the Hatchie river is a quite untouched ecosystem and hosts hundreds of species of fish. The most characteristic animal living there, though, is the Alligator Snapping Turtle. A replica of the huge reptile is in display as well.
Felsenthal Lincoln Museum
Morton Felsenthal collected some 800 items about Abraham Lincoln, which is one of the largest privately owned collections of the region. The West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center can only display a portion of the full collection. Unfortunately, I did not spot the exhibition during my visit.
“Sleepy John” Estes House
Though the exhibitions mentioned before are all very well done and interesting, the two outdoor exhibits (which are next to each other) are just most attractive to the visitors. The first historic building placed outside the visitor center is the original house of John Adams Estes, better known as “Sleepy John” Estes. The legend of blues, who was blind on one eye after a baseball accidient, grew up in the area. Especially the size, but also the equipment and interior of the building illustrates very impressively how blues started as the music of the poor people. At the walls, there are several interesting exhibits.
Tina Turner Museum
Last but not least, there is Tina Turner, the worldwide well-reputed Queen of Rock Music. Her birthplace Nutbush is just some twenty miles away and the Tina Turner Museum, which has been equipped with items donated by the superstar herself, is located in her former school building. Thus, the Tina Turner Museum also operates as Flagg Grove School Museum.
The first chapter of the room is dedicated to Tina Turner and has a lot of memorabilia. Turner herself never visited the place, but she supported it and the exhibition was designed and controlled by one of her management members. There are original costumes, wigs, golden records and much more. Again, selection of items and the presentation of the museum is just awesome regarding its size.
The rear part of the building reminds of the school days at Tina Turner’s age and really concentrates on school life items. It is thus a very nice combination of two museums in one building.
West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center – My View
I feel that the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center is an awesome place. The people working there turn it to a warm and welcoming place. All museums are well done and give a nice view on the topics they are presenting. If you are driving along the I-40, it would be a shame if you just make it to the nearby Mc Donald’s or pass exit 56 completely. To me, there is no doubt to call this place a Top Pick!
These are all articles, in which I dealt with events and places influencing musical history: