Travel Tip: The Patsy Cline Museum In Nashville

By: Nicole Pensiero

Some of the cowgirl costumes made by Patsy Cline’s mom early in her career. Photo by Nicole Pensiero

Like many fans of her music, I wasn’t really aware of Patsy Cline until the 1985 hit film of her life, “Sweet Dreams,” starring Jessica Lange, came out. Lange – who was nominated for an Academy Award – did an incredible job of portraying the doomed country star – lip-synching her songs with great precision and displaying just the amount of unbridled ambition. Like millions of other moviegoers, the music and the story had me hooked. Oh, but the ending – that was just too hard to take.

the display about the 1985 hit film of Cline’s life, “Sweet Dreams.” Photo by Nicole Pensiero.

Cline – real name, Virginia Hensley – died tragically at the age of 30 in a 1963 plane crash, along with fellow country stars Cowboy Copas and Hawshaw Hawkins. Today, it’s Cline’s name that is still remembered, and for good reason. With her torch and twang vocals, and tremendous selection of unforgettable songs, Cline has become a true icon.

During a recent visit to Nashville, I had an opportunity to visit the Patsy Cline Museum, which opened in 2017, sharing the same building space (but on a different floor) as the Johnny Cash Museum.

There, any true fan of Cline will find a plethora of things to savor – from her original cowgirl costumes (many made by her mother), to personal letters, jewelry and stage dresses.

There are so many music-themed attractions in Nashville that it’s hard to pick what to explore. But I couldn’t resist learning more about Patsy Cline. The museum that bears her name was easy to reach from our beautifully appointed hotel, the Nashville Westin.  It is also just a short walk from the famous honky-tonk Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge – where some 60 years ago Cline’s husband, Charlie Dick, heard a song, “Crazy,” written by a young Willie Nelson. Cline’s spellbinding version of “Crazy” hit No. 2 on the country charts (and #10 on the pop charts), and is said to be the most played song on American jukeboxes.

A dress worn by Cline in concert in 1962. Photo by Nicole Pensiero.

The Patsy Cline Museum features artifacts from every stage of Cline’s life, including a porch chair from her childhood home in Winchester, Va.; the sewing machine her mom made those dresses on; and the rec room from the Tennessee home she and Dick shared with their two young kids.

Stage costumes, letters, and record covers line the walls. Cline’s wedding photo album and scrapbook (donated by her friend, the late country singer Dottie West) are behind glass; visitors can left through them via computer screens at the display. After Charlie Dick died in 2015, other items emerged that have made their way to the museum, including a telegram from Elvis Presley’s manager Colonel Tom Parker expressing condolences after the tragic plane crash. The 4,000 square-foot gallery features an array of interactive exhibits and rare video clips. There’s even section about the making of the film “Sweet Dreams.”

I was most moved by the information and photographs about the “dream home” Patsy and her husband had purchased in a Nashville suburb less than a year before she died. The home was Patsy’s pride and joy – along with her family – and after her death, Dick and her two young children never really lived in it again.

Cline was such a natural talent that songs like “I Fall to Pieces,” “Walkin’ After Midnight” and “Sweet Dreams,” still sound fresh as ever. It is painful to know that she died so young. But her amazing legacy lives on. I highly recommend a visit to the Patsy Cline Museum for any fan – or even the curious. It is certainly worth it!

For more information, visit The museum is open 9 a.m. – 7 p.m., Monday to Sunday. Tickets are $19.95 for adults; $1 off discounts for seniors, students and military. Children (ages 6-15) are $15.95; ages 5 and under are free with adult admission. For more information on Nashville, visit

Nicole Pensiero is a South Jersey-based travel writer. You can follow her on Twitter @NicoleWrytr.

Follow South Jersey provides local journalism which highlights our diverse communities; fosters transparency through robust, localized, and vital reporting that holds leaders and institutions accountable; addresses critical information needs; supports people in navigating civic life; and equips people with the information necessary to partake in effective community engagement. If there is a story or event you think we should cover, please send your tips to with “NEWS” in the subject line.