Opened in 2018, the $160-million Tennessee State Museum is a thorough look into the state’s history, and one that aims to make history more engaging than just looking at artifacts behind glass. While it mostly succeeds—using video, touchscreens, and interactive table maps where you can highlight a county and find out just what went on there—the building aesthetically matches the interior of the state capitol. While I understand that from a consistency standpoint, design-wise all the brass fixtures and the tan-and-brown palette read dated to me, which is odd for such a new building. That aside, there’s a lot to do here and it’s free, so it’s a no-brainer for anyone visiting downtown or Germantown. Key artifacts include a 32-foot dugout canoe from 1750 and an 1863 Civil War cannon. Walk through the "Tennessee Time Tunnel,” which takes you through the state’s history starting in prehistoric times, but note it’s easy to get lost wandering through the exhibits, so keep kids close by. There’s also a music-themed section, showcasing artifacts, costumes, and audiovisual elements such as jukeboxes that play hits by everyone from Elvis to Dolly. In the Civil War section, you can listen to stories from a life-size Confederate soldier and use high-tech maps to see which battles happened where. The second-floor veranda overlooks Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, with unobstructed views of the state Capitol and downtown. In the children's gallery, kids can walk across a large map of the state, stopping along the way at interactive stations.