The Cotton Museum is located on the historic trade floor of the Memphis Cotton Exchange building where cotton traders once stood at the center of the global cotton economy. The museum tells the story of how this crop changed shaped a country’s politics, people, and economy. This grand space is now filled with striking artifacts and exhibits that tell the story of King Cotton and its impact on the world. Highlights include original films, detailing specific aspects of the cotton industry, oral histories from individuals involved, and exciting temporary exhibits.
The Cotton Exchange was founded after the Civil War in 1874 because a trade organization was needed to regulate the buying and selling of cotton in the city. The Cotton Exchange was responsible for determining the prices of cotton, the selling, and the grading of cotton. Due to technological innovations, the Cotton Exchange closed in the late 1970s and the bottom floor of the building became a museum in 2006.
The museum also highlights one of our city's greatest treasures, the Blues. It describes the unique genre's evolution from African rhythms, instruments, and oral traditions as well as the soulful spirituals sung by slaves and field hands across the south. African Americans who migrated from the rural Delta carried those traditions to Memphis. Many of our visitors come to The Buff City interested in hearing Blues music but are often unaware of this connection: that the Blues evolved out of the desperation and creative will of those seeking a better life in a time of absolute oppression and complete despotism.
Also included in your admission is a self-guided audio tour of Cotton Row. Memphis is the largest spot-cotton market in the world and, for generations, the historic Cotton Row district that surrounds the museum was the center of the worldwide cotton trade. The tour highlights historic landmarks and gives visitors a sense of the clamber and bustle that once surrounded cotton commerce in Memphis.
"The Museum at a Glance." Cotton Museum. Accessed September 18, 2014. http://memphiscottonmuseum.org/about-us/the-museum-at-a-glance.