Built around the former Lorraine Motel, where civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, the National Civil Rights Museum immediately emits its cultural and historical significance to all who visit. Exhibits chronicle some of the most important episodes of the Civil Rights Movement, including the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, the Little Rock Nine, Montgomery Bus Boycotts, and the famous sit-ins of the 1960s.
Both the historical importance of the place and the material displayed within make the National Civil Rights Museum a must for better understanding this tumultuous part of American history. As one of the most meaningful attractions in Memphis, the museum can be visited a number of ways. Many sightseeing tours, particularly American Civil Rights and history tours, include a stop here, while other tours combine the museum with visits to sites such as the Stax Museum of American Soul Music or the Rock 'n' Soul Museum. Travelers who'd rather move at their own pace can visit independently or on a self-guided tour of the city’s many African American heritage sites.
- This site is a must-see for history buffs.
- Give yourself a minimum of two hours to experience the museum exhibits.
- Flash-free photography is permitted.
- Much of the museum is wheelchair accessible.
How to Get to the Memphis National Civil Rights Museum
The museum is situated in the South Main District in downtown Memphis, a short drive from most of the city’s other attractions. Free parking is available in a guest lot off Mulberry Street. It’s also a short walk from the Main Street Trolley line.
When to Get There
The National Civil Rights Museum is closed on Tuesdays and most major U.S. holidays. During the summer season between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day, opening hours are extended in the evenings. On weekdays, school groups tend to arrive in the morning, so planning a visit for later in the afternoon can mean shorter lines and fewer crowds.
What to See Beyond the Lorraine
Many visitors tour the portion of the museum housed within the Lorraine Motel and leave, but they’re missing out. Across Mulberry Street from the motel, the Young & Morrow and Boarding House buildings from (where the assassin’s shot was allegedly fired) house the Legacy exhibits, which cover a timeline of the American Civil Rights movement and a look at the movement’s effect on global human rights.