NASHVILLE (WSMV) - Every era of country music is on exhibit here. From Minnie Pearl's hat to Elvis's Cadillac, the artifacts are a window into the past, were left in the dark last year for six months.
"We were closed," Brad Henton, the Director of Museum Sales and Guest Experience at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, said.
The Country Music Hall of Fame took a hit by the pandemic in 2020 but found success digitally by hosting over seven million visitors. Then, it finally reopened its doors to in-person visitors last fall.
"It's starting to feel more normal again. You know, over the last several weeks, we've seen visitation really push almost 70% of our previous attendance levels," he said.
With COVID restrictions all dropped, Henton said they see about 2,500 guests on Saturdays. However, there's still a missing segment of tourists during the week.
"The travel markets that we still haven't seen come back yet are the corporate and convention travel, the group travel. As that starts to come back, which we're seeing real strong indications that will be later this fall, maybe September, October, that will really fill in the whole picture," Henton explained.
The whole picture includes two new exhibits: American Currents and The Station Inn.
One of their most significant changes now is a scheduled admission model to cut down on wait times.
"Optimistically, by the end of this year, we could see attendance levels that are maybe reaching and hopefully exceeding what we saw pre-COVID," he said.
That means even more people get the whole picture of country music history and understand what makes Nashville, Nashville.
"If you want to understand why people still move to this city with everything they own in the back of a car and a dream, you understand that here," Henton said.
The museum also plans to open an exhibit on Martina McBride and another one on Bill Anderson later this year. The Country Music Hall of Fame has extended its hours to:
- Monday – Thursday: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
- Friday – Saturday: 9:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
- Sunday: 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
For Memorial Day weekend, the museum will be open until 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.