Located in Memphis’ Soulsville area in the former Stax Records -- which had also been the old Capitol Theater and closed due to bankruptcy in 1976 -- the Stax Museum of American Soul Music is a recreation of what once was. After the original studio was torn down in 1989, there was a revitalization effort for the area and the institution was rebuilt to its former glory. Today visitors can peruse over 2,000 photos, films, music clips, costumes, original instruments, artifacts, trivia games and exhibits that tell the story of Stax Records and Memphis music history. You’ll learn about Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Ike & Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and other soul legends.
The Stax Museum of American Soul Music is one of only a very few soul-focused museums in existence anywhere in the world. Some collection highlights include the dance floor from Soul Train, Isaac Hayes’ flashy gold and blue Cadillac El Dorado, a historical film on Stax Records you watch at the beginning of your visit, Studio A, Tina Turner’s gold sequined dress, a brown suede jacket owned by Otis Redding, the Hall of Records with its showcase of 912 singles and 292 full length albums, and a recreation of the Stax Records Control Room.
Don’t leave without perusing their gift shop for soul music inspired t-shirts, DVDs, CDs and memorabilia. Best of all, each purchase helps benefit the museum as well as the next door Stax Music Academy, which provides music education and arts opportunities to at-risk youth.
Allow about two to three hours to explore the museum.