Visiting the National Civil Rights Museum

The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis was the most overwhelming museum experience I’ve ever had. To be sure, this is not a “quirky attraction.” It’s a serious, sobering examination of our history.

The museum was built in/around the hotel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed. They’ve preserved the room where he stayed and all the artifacts relating to his killing. Even the bullet that was removed from his body is on display, for crying out loud.

It’s almost too much. It’s definitely informative, and anyone truly interested in American history or issues regarding race and civil rights should make a visit.

What you’ll find during a visit to the National Civil Rights Museum

They have displays covering the timeline from slavery to the present day, going through the slave revolts, court battles, bus boycotts and Washington DC protests and marches.

A wreath marks the exact spot on the balcony where King was shot in April, 1968. The tour takes you inside the hotel, right next to the balcony.

martin luther king hotel

The tour continues across the street, into the building where James Earl Ray is believed to have fired the fatal shot. This part of the tour is a bit freaky. You can see the actual bathroom and look out the window the shot supposedly came from.

MLK shot hotel

National Civil Rights Museum ticket prices & hours

Basic hours are 9 to 5 everyday except Sunday, when they’re open 1 to 5, and Tuesday, when they’re closed. A standard ticket is $13, though students and seniors receive discounts. Headset rentals are available for audio tours.

These couple of pics really don’t do the entire museum justice, but photos are not allowed inside the National Civil Rights Museum itself.

For more info, check out the museum FAQs.

mlk hotel


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About Scott Shetler

Scott is a Chicago-based journalist and blogger who seeks out quirky sights and awesome destinations throughout North America and beyond.

2 comments on “Visiting the National Civil Rights Museum

  1. Wow, what an evocative experience that must have been. I imagine it’s meant to make you feel as well as think. Even if one feels it’s too much. Perhaps it’s a bit like visiting a concentration camp. Too much, yes – but still a poignant, and sadly, necessary reminder.

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