Located in a renovated, 1920s horse barn within the larger Ellington Agricultural Center, the Tennessee Agricultural Museum exhibits numerous 19th and early 20th-century farm equipment, tools, household items, textiles and historical prints and photographs of rural 1800s-1930s Tennessee. Operated by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, the museum offers free admission for self-guided tours. Guided tours are available with a reservation and for a small fee.
The museum was established by legislative act in 1959. However, funds were not allocated for its creation until 1979. Finally, the Oscar L. Farris Agricultural Museum Association was established in 1988 to oversee the museum. The Agricultural Center and museum are located on the former Brentwood Hall Estate that was donated to the state by the Ewing family and Rogers Caldwell.
The museum also incorporates various outbuildings into its historical endeavors. There are several log cabins adjacent to the museum that housed Caldwell’s farm hands, with some dating back to the early 19th century. They now house exhibits that depict settler life in rural Tennessee. The Safely School is a replica, 19th century, one-room schoolhouse and Miss Catherine’s Farm House has been renovated for museum use. The Strasser Experience Center is a pavilion with a vintage tractor and interactive exhibits. Lastly, the Post and Beam Equipment Shed displays mule-drawn farm equipment and houses a working mule-powered sorghum mill that produces sorghum molasses, especially during the Music and Molasses Arts and Crafts Festival held annually during the third weekend in October.
The museum is home to the Tennessee Agricultural Hall of Fame. It also sponsors numerous educational programs, such as Covered Wagons and Log Cabins on the Cumberland and Tennessee’s First Farmers: An Indian Legacy. In conjunction with its educational programs are curriculum programs and guides and its Travelling Trunk outreach program.