Mississippi River Museum

The Mississippi River Museum is a museum located on Mud Island, in Memphis, Tennessee.

Mississippi River Museum
Mississippi River Park Memphis TN 004.jpg
The museum's entrance, featuring a scale model of the Mississippi River.
LocationMud Island, Memphis, Tennessee
Coordinates35°08′58″N 90°03′30″W / 35.1494°N 90.0583°W / 35.1494; -90.0583Coordinates: 35°08′58″N 90°03′30″W / 35.1494°N 90.0583°W / 35.1494; -90.0583
TypeHistory, naval, music
DirectorCarol Coletta (as of July 2020)


The museum opened in 1982 with the goal of "preserv[ing] and promot[ing] the natural and cultural history of the Lower Mississippi River Valley".[1]

In 1990, businessman Sidney Shlenker (known locally for managing construction of the Memphis Pyramid) planned to shut down the museum to make space for new bars and restaurants on the island. The announcement of these plans was met with backlash by the West Tennessee Historical Society, which cooperated with the Mud Island Foundation and then-Mayor of Memphis Richard Hackett to intervene and save the museum from closure.[2][3]

In July 2018, the museum was temporarily closed for renovations, citing low attendance rates and a need to update outdated exhibits. The museum reopened in May 2019.[4][5]

In August 2019, vandals broke into the museum, breaking display cases but not stealing or damaging any of the historical artifacts on display.[6]

Displays and exhibitsEdit

Overhead view of the Mississippi River scale model, showing the adjacent map of Memphis.

The museum is divided into 18 galleries, which display more than 5,000 Mississippi River-relevant historical artifacts altogether. Located just outside of the museum is a scale model of the river.[7]

Several items relevant to the Mississippi River's role in the Civil War are on display, most notably a life-size replica of a Union City-class ironclad gunboat.[8]

The museum is populated by wax sculptures of historical figures linked to the Mississippi River, such as Mark Twain and Mike Fink. A documentary on the several perils of traveling and living on the river (such as boiler explosions and yellow fever) is played at the "Theatre of Horrors". One of the museum's galleries is dedicated to the history of music on the river.[9]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Abbott, George (August 17, 2018). "Relive River History: (re)Opening the Mississippi River Museum". Memphis River Parks Partnership. Memphis, TN. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
  2. ^ "History of WTHS". West Tennessee Historical Society. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
  3. ^ "Mid-South Memories: Sept. 27". The Commercial Appeal. Memphis, TN. September 26, 2015. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
  4. ^ Dries, Bill (July 6, 2018). "Review of Mud Island Museum Begins as River Museum Closes Early for Season". The Daily News. Memphis, TN. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  5. ^ Kennedy, Corinne (March 6, 2019). "Mississippi River Museum to open in May for first full season after aesthetic updates". The Commercial Appeal. Memphis, TN. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
  6. ^ Butcher, Rebecca (August 25, 2019). "Mississippi River Museum closed due to vandalism". Local 24 News. Memphis, TN. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
  7. ^ "Mississippi River Museum at Mud Island Park". Memphis Travel. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
  8. ^ "Mississippi River Museum at Mud Island". American Battlefield Trust. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
  9. ^ "Mud Island". Roadside America. July 14, 2020. Retrieved July 14, 2020.