Tag Archives: tourism

Country Music Hall Of Fame

2 May

Country Music Hall Of Fame

222 5th Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203

by BooMarie

In 1961 the Country Music Association announced the creation of the Country Music Hall of Fame.  They chose an all-star line-up with their first three inductees – Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams, and Fred Rose. In the Summer of 1997, fundraising started in order to move, build, and create Nashville’s new tourist destination.  While the Country Music Hall of Fame was in charge of identifying and preserving the evolution of the history and traditions in country music, it’s new “big stars” were technology and design.




In 1998, visions for this new destination started to take shape.  New innovations with technology began to form and the museum was more than willing to make the best of it.  So, what was so intriguing and different about this Nashville landmark?  Will Pinkston from the Tennessean explains, “A person would select a few oldies while walking through exhibits, then pick up a freshly “burned” CD on the way out.” But that is not all! Forty touch-screen panels were stationed throughout the museum, providing easy access to profiles of country personalities, significant dates and other important pieces of facts and data.  These innovations caught the eye of not only the Nashville community and thousands elsewhere, but these innovations were supported by great concept and research.

On April 8, 1998 the Tennessean, a local news source, reported with the headline,”Designer took country crash course.” So what did they mean and who was this designer? Ralph Appelbaum, previously known for his work at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library (2004), the Museum of the Portuguese Language (2006), The National World War I Museum (2006), the London Transport Museum (2007), and the Newseum (2008), rolled up his sleeves and metaphorically put on his cowboy hat to produce the most cutting edge creation Nashville had seen.


Photo by: The Washington Post


If you are familiar with Ralph Appelbaum, you are familiar with his rare ability to draw emotion from the passersby. “He knows, for instance, how to make people cry in public. He is perfectly capable of disarming viewers with displays of poignant beauty and promise, or overpowering them with graphic proof of tragedy and loss,” states Barbara Flanagan (2000). He is known for his consideration and acknowledgment of today’s museums and how they compete with other forms of leisure entertainment. As his reputation speaks for itself, it is understood that he doesn’t work in the field of museum exhibition design. He practically owns it. “By mixing the didactic material of museums with a good story line and a lot of flashy modern hardware, he all but invented ‘edutainment’.” – Bradford A. McKee.


“What’s a Museum: What he says it is. How Ralph Appelbaum built a monopoly in the field of exhibition design.” – Architecture Magazine, 2002


So, where did the inspiration and research for such an innovative museum come from? Of course, the environment surrounding. Researchers looked at a variety of interesting subjects including: country songs, general stores, classic cars, prisons, grain silos, and water towers. Appelbaum initially incorporated many of these elements directly into the design. Hence, the Hall of Fame’s Rotunda. It is shaped and inspired by none other than a grain silo. The signature “radio tower,” which projects from the museum’s top, resembles the WSM radio tower in tribute to the station which launched the one and only Grande Ole Opry.


Photo By: Ralph Appelbaum Associates


It is a simple but important equation. With the addition to the new location, novel design, and ingenious creativity the Country Music Hall of Fame became the new landmark to visit and quickly started to accumulate business, which later led to increased tourism for Nashville. Respectably, the understanding of how much it would produce in profit was secured early on. Many say Nashville needed this change and the community supported it. The Nashville Tourism Commission and the Metropolitan Convention Center Commission even believed in this expansion and approved early on by allocating $2 Million, paid in $500,000 increments to support the construction of Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum (Wanda Southerland).


“This is the first tourist-designated facility being built in Nashville in 20 years” – Kyle Young, Director of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.


Photo By: Ralph Appelbaum Associates


Well, how does the Country Music Hall of Fame fare today? Today, the Country Music Holds its own with both tourism and design. New exhibits are being added and innovative design is still being proven. While Nashville has stuck to its tradition of being the home for grand tunes, modernism in design has been and probably always be the key to promoting education – or – edutainment from the Country Music Hall of Fame.