For Art's Sake: A Memphis Gallery Guide

brooks baxter

Memphis Brooks Museum of Art

Belz Museum horses

Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art Jade Horses

An artist painting in Memphis

Find art studios filled with local Memphis artists in downtown Memphis. Photo by The Commercial Appeal.

Memphis is the Home of the Blues and the Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll, but that doesn’t mean we’re all rhythm and rhyme. For an artistic take on the city, check out our recommendations to some of the most gallery-rich museums in Memphis.  After seeing our large collection of French Impressionism paintings, beautiful outdoor gardens and hidden gallery gems, you’ll soon see why our art appeal rivals our musical prowess.

Dixon Gallery and Gardens is a fine art museum and 17-acre public garden (certified arboretum) located in the heart of Memphis near Audubon Park. The Dixon features diverse and changing exhibitions of fine and decorative arts. Their permanent collection of over 2,000 objects include important French Impressionist paintings from Claude Monet and Jean-Louis Forain as well as and significant holdings of sparkling German and English porcelain.

The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art ranks as the oldest and one of the largest fine arts museums in the state of Tennessee. Sitting smack dab in the middle of Overton Park (right near the Memphis Zoo), the Brooks encompasses works in all forms of media made throughout the world. You absolutely must see the beautiful works by Renoir and Pissaro. Every Wednesday is pay-what-you-can day, but you can’t leave without visiting the Brushmark Restaurant (try the African peanut soup) or the Museum Store which has a great selection of unique jewelry and art for your home or office.

Located just behind the Brooks Museum is Rust Hall at the Memphis College of Art.  The work of nationally and internationally known artists as well as current students is displayed in both traveling and individually curated exhibits. The college’s also has a second gallery in the South Main Arts district of downtown Memphis which mounts several exhibitions of contemporary art each year.

There is an artistic ease in the South Main district of downtown Memphis that is evidenced by its multiple art galleries, chic boutiques, shops and residential homes.  In these galleries, you’ll find a variety of photography, sculpture and painting styles.

The area is home to the annual art festival, the River Arts Fest, which usually occurs in October every year. And on the last Friday of every month, locals and visitors are invited to hop aboard the trolley and explore the galleries at no cost.

Started in 1995, David Lusk Gallery represents a small collection of talented artists.  Some with national reputations, others new to any gallery; a few are from the Mid-South region, others from far-away states.

Originally intended for temporary contemporary art exhibitions, The University of Memphis Art Gallery is now an important component of the College of Communication and Fine Arts.

Part of their permanent collect includes more than 180 pieces of Sub-Saharan African art as well as various cultural artifacts, including two suits of Japanese armor, Ethiopian spear points, ancient Greco-Roman glass, and Navaho textiles.

Finally, Material Art Space is a small exhibition space set in revamped Binghamton neighborhood of Memphis. Material serves as a space for young artist to have their first art shows and as a place for established local and regional artists to test new ideas in a public forum. Their programming consists of artists’ lectures and monthly shows.