Unlike most of my trips, this day of vacation came about in a sudden and unexpected way. We were bumped off our United flight home from the Music City Bowl! Originally, our Nashville trip had been focused on college football, so we really had not explored much of Nashville. We had not done much preplanning for site seeing adventures in Nashville. Rebekah had read about the Parthenon, but we didn’t think we would have time to fit it into our schedule. After checking into the Comfort Suites, we decided that we would go see the Parthenon.
History of the Nashville Parthenon
The Parthenon was originally built for Tennessee’s 1897 Centennial Exposition. It is a replica of the Parthenon in Athens. It was one of many buildings erected specifically for the exposition, but most of the others were demolished in 1898. In 1920, the Park Board decided to upgrade the Parthenon to make it a more accurate replica. Additionally, the structure had to be updated since the original building materials were chosen for a temporary structure. For the updates, they used concrete for the exterior instead of the marble used in the original Parthenon.
Inside the Nashville Parthenon
The Nashville Parthenon is now home to the city’s art museum. Their permanent collection includes 19th and 20th century American paintings donated by James Cowan, a resident of Aurora, Illinois. He had spent his teenage years in Tennessee and visited the Tennessee Centennial Exposition in 1897. James Cowan made his money in insurance, but his true passion was collecting art. Towards the end of his life, he decided to donate a portion of his collection of paintings to the museum. Most of these paintings are Impressionist paintings. Some of the paintings he donated were purchased specifically for the Nashville museum.
I would strongly recommend going inside the Parthenon to see the works of art since the admission price is a very budget-friendly $6. You can see the largest piece of indoor sculpture in the western world. The statue of Athena stands 41 feet and 10 inches tall! The statue is quite impressive, and, even with a selfie stick, is difficult to get a good selfie with the statue! It is a replica and the sculptor, Alan LeQuire, was chosen due to his commitment to accuracy and his skill. On one side of the statue, there is a series of plaques that detail the steps in the gold leafing process. It was definitely an interesting read and they had examples of each step of the process.
Additionally, there is a very interesting exhibition about the Centennial Exposition. I really enjoyed walking through this part of the museum. We were able to see a substantial amount of the museum in an hour.
Dining in Nashville
After the museum, we had an early New Year’s Eve dinner at the bar at Husk. They have really unique cocktails. The drinks we had were amazing and so pretty. The restaurant was in a charming building and our meal was excellent. I had the lemon dessert, and it was delicious. This is a great place to have a nice, relaxing dinner.
If you are looking for a more casual meal, I would also recommend The Pharmacy. It is a burger parlor and beer garden. I was excited that they also had hand crafted sodas. I would highly recommend perusing the soda menu before looking at the wine, beer and cocktails list. I ordered a strawberry ginger soda, which was a delicious combination of strawberry and ginger syrups and phosphate soda. Also, the burger that accompanied my soda was very tasty!
Overall, I think that we were able to find a fun way to spend the day. I was happy that we were able to see a bit of Nashville. Have you ever had to find a way to make the most of an unexpected extended vacation?
Expert tips for visiting the Nashville Parthenon:
- You can easily walk from the Parthenon to Vanderbilt University.
- There is plenty of greenspace so the Parthenon would be a good place to have a picnic on a nice day.