The Pink Palace Museum in Memphis: The Complete Visitors Guide

Exterior of the Pink Palace Museum in Memphis

 Thomas R Machnitzki / Wikimedia Commons

The Pink Palace Museum is one of the largest museums of its kind in the southeastern United States. Its large collection of permanent exhibits help visitors to explore Memphis' natural and cultural history. It also has a planetarium, CTI 3D giant theater, and a beautiful front lawn. The exhibits are set up for people of all ages from children to adults.

History

The Pink Palace Mansion is exactly that -- a mansion built of pink Georgian marble. It was designed in the early 1920s to be the home of Clarence Saunders, a prominent Memphian and founder of Piggly Wiggly stores. Before the mansion's construction was complete, Saunders was forced to file for bankruptcy. In the late 1920s the home was given to the city of Memphis to be used as a museum. In 1930 it officially opened as the Memphis Museum of Natural History and Industrial Arts. The public, however, kept calling it the pink palace museum and in 1967 the name was officially changed.

Over the years the museum was expanded. Adjacent to the mansion is the more modern Pink Palace Museum building. This building also houses many of the museum's permanent exhibits. These exhibits include: a walk-through replica of the first Piggly Wiggly store, the amazing Clyde Parke Circus which is a mechanical one inch to one foot scale model circus, Native American pottery, and fossils. This building hosts ever changing traveling exhibits, as well.

In 2018 the Pink Palace officially re-opened after a full renovation. For the first time ever the second floor of the original mansion is open to the public. The museum now has over 170,00-square-feet of space.

What to See

The museum has three permanent exhibits. One is on the cultural history of the Mid-South and tells the story of cotton, slavery, and the Civil War. Another is on the natural history of the Mid-South where you can learn about the Mississippi River and the animals that have called the region home. The third exhibit talks about the historic building.

The Memphis Pink Palace has a CTI 3D Giant Theater, which uses RealD 3D digital technology and a state-of-the-art sound system. The Giant Theater seats 240 people and shows a variety of educational 3D films, such as Extreme Weather, National Parks, and Walking With Dinosaurs. In addition, the Pink Palace screens classic family films in 2D on occasion - everything from The Muppet Movie to Harry Potter to animated Disney classics. 

The Sharpe Planetarium, also located inside the Pink Palace Museum, has a variety of shows about stargazing, astronomy, outer space, and more. The Planetarium is open for shows. Click here for a current schedule.

Visiting the Pink Palace Museum

The Pink Palace Museum is located at 3050 Central Ave, Memphis, TN 38111. The best way to get to the museum is to drive (parking is free) or take an Uber.

The museum is open Monday to Saturday 9 am to 5 pm. On Fridays the museum is open from 6 pm to 9 pm. Sunday hours are 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

The cheapest tickets are for the exhibits only. Tickets are $15 for adults; $14 for seniors: $10 children 3 to 12. Children under 2 are free. It costs more to attend planetarium or theater shows.

Other Pink Palace Facilities

There are several other facilities that are a part of the Pink Palace Family of Museums including historic home. Check out the website for a complete list of all the fun you can have in the Pink Palace Family of Museums.

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