Blue Star Museums Blog (Archive)

What's on View at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art?

Memphis, Tennessee 

The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is located at 1934 Poplar Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee. ©Kevin Barre Photography

The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is Tennessee's oldest fine arts museum. Opened to the public in 1916, today the museum complex comprises 29 galleries, two art classrooms, a print study room, a research library, and a state-of-the-art auditorium. The museum's 8,500-piece collection is expansive, with works by Thomas Gainsborough, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Thomas Hart Benton, Robert Motherwell, to name a view. Its holdings also include work from ancient America and the Mediterranean and the Renaissance and Baroque periods, as well as sculpture and decorative arts, and an award-winning survey of African Art.

Museum Director Cameron Kitchin noted that nearly 100 years later, the museum remains firmly committed to its community. "Thanks to 95 years of community engagement in Memphis, the Brooks takes an enthusiastic leadership role in building an aspirational future for our city. Inspiration and great accomplishments from antiquity to the present are all in evidence here at the Brooks. By bringing to life the objects and ideas in our collections, we connect people to one another across cultures, time, and geography."

Jimi Hendrix and Wilson Pickett, Prelude Club, Atlantic Records release party (May 5, 1966), William "PoPsie" Randolph. Photo courtesy of Michael Randolph, Executor to the Estate of William "PoPsie" Randolph

On view at the Brooks through September 26 is Who Shot Rock & Roll, which the Commercial Appeal called “the most significant music photo exhibit ever assembled." The six-section exhibit focuses on rock and roll photographers, "acknowledging their creative and collaborative role in the history of rock music." Images include behind-the-scenes portraits of a young Elvis Presley by Alfred Wertheimer, William "PoPsie" Randolph's photo of Jimi Hendrix backing up Wilson Pickett, and an iconic photo of Tina Turner by Henry Diltz. Photos from the museum's own collection also figure in the exhibit (which was organized by the Brooklyn Museum with guest curator Gail Buckland), including a young Aretha Franklin standing outside the Lorraine Motel with Sam Cooke.


Reading by the Brook (1879),Winslow Homer. Image courtesy Memphis Brooks Museum of Art

Also offered at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is a full calendar of community activities, including live music in the galleries, a weekly film series, and artist lectures. Family-friendly activities include Storytime: An Ear for Art and Creation Station, both of which encourage younger art aficionados to create their own works of art after touring special exhibits or the permanent collection. Families can also enhance their visits to the museum with audio guides and interactive family fun guides.

What better way to pass the dog days of August than with a visit to a museum . . . or two or three? Visit the Blue Star Museums page to find a participating museum near you.


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