5 Star Stories: ‘901 Student Passport’ takes Shelby County children to the museums of the Bluff City

Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 10:32 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The “901 Student Passport” is in full swing providing free admission to all Shelby County school-aged children and their families to historic sites and cultural institutions.

In light of that, we’re sharing what we found at those places during our weekly quest to highlight the things that make us proud to call the Mid-South home. So, this 5 Star Story is a stop at all nine locations on the list.

Our first stop is the Fire Museum of Memphis inside Fire Engine House No.1 at 118 Adams in downtown Memphis. Billed as “the hottest attraction” -- the interactive fire museum promotes fire safety and the heritage and contributions of fire service to the community.

Next is the Museum of Science & History or MoSH, formally known as the Pink Palace Museum, a place to explore, discover and experience history, science, culture and nature.

“One of our key things is to really reach out and get in touch with our community and connect in a much more meaningful way and to tell the stories not just of what’s going on nationally, but locally,” said MoSH Executive Director Kevin Thompson.

The National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel is our third stop -- an almost sacred spot enshrining the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s last moments.

“We found the community support to say, ‘You know what, this place has value, we want to keep it sacred. Yes what happened here was tragic but it’s our story and we deserve to have that story told here more than any place else,” explained Noelle Trent, the museum’s director of interpretation, collections and education.

And all while also inspiring generations around the world with a poignant and personal presentation of Civil Rights struggles throughout history.

If you’re a music buff of any sort, then a visit to the Memphis Rock ‘N’ Soul museum adjacent to FedExForum is a must!

“The only time the Smithsonian has ever put together an entire museum for the city in which it exists,” said Executive Director John Doyle.

Rock N Soul is also the city’s only museum that tells the complete Memphis music story from musical migrant sharecroppers of the 1930′s through the diverse musical offerings of today

If nature is your thing, you’ll want to check out the Lichterman Nature Center’s 65 acres of forest, meadow, and lakes teeming with wildlife and plants, as well as three miles of trails and a pond filled with American lotus with “flowers like dinner plates and the leaves easily two feet across.”

An urban oasis and accredited arboretum tucked away in east Memphis.

In the heart of Overton Park sits the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art -- one of the largest art museums in the American South. Its 29 galleries are filled with a collection of art from antiquity to the present and public and private meeting spaces.

Across town, is the Dixon Gallery and Gardens -- once the home of philanthropists Hugo and Margaret Dixon who bequeathed their home and collection of French Impressionist paintings and gardens for all to enjoy. It’s now home to a vast collection of French and Post-Impressionist art -- an experience designed for you to appreciate the cultural narratives found in nature and art.

Another location on the passport list -- the Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum that’s inside a home built in 1849 at 826 North Second Street. Some believe the home was part of the underground railroad network that helped enslaved people escape.

Now, it’s decorated with 19th-century furnishings and artifacts and serves as not only a shrine to the brave souls who sought refuge there but also to the brave Memphians who dared go against societal norms.

Our ninth and final stop is the Metal Museum -- with one of the city’s best views of the Mississippi River -- where artisans turn metal into masterpieces.

“It’s sort of the mecca for metal working,” said Head Blacksmith James Masterson. “I mean it seems like anybody who does jewelry work, metalsmithing, blacksmithing, foundry, fabrication they all know where the metal museum’s at.” And so do thousands of visitors who come to watch artists work their craft and marvel at the historic buildings.”

So, if you have the time and a Shelby County student in your home, you don’t have to worry about money to explore what these nine special places have to offer you and your family.

If you’d like to sign up for the “901 Student Passport” simply visit shelbycountytn.gov.

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