Parthenon Nashville

The Parthenon in Nashville

The Parthenon
2500 West End Avenue
Nashville, TN 37203
615-880-2265 (fax)

The famous replica of the classic Greek structure, the Parthenon, was originally built for Tennessee’s 1897 Centennial Exposition. This exact replica of the Parthenon located in Athens, Greece serves as a monument to what is considered by many  to be the pinnacle of classical architecture.

The plaster replicas of the Parthenon Marbles found in the Naos are direct casts of the original sculptures, which adorned the pediments of the Athenian Parthenon dating back to 438 B.C. The originals of these powerful fragments are housed in the British Museum in London. —

The Parthenon stands proudly as the centerpiece of Centennial Park, Nashville’s premier urban park. In addition, a re-creation of the famous 42-foot statue of Athena is the focus of the Parthenon just as it was in ancient Greece. The building and the Athena statue are both full-scale replicas of the Athenian originals.

The Parthenon also serves as Nashville’s art museum. The focus of the Parthenon’s permanent collection is a group of 63 paintings by 19th and 20th century American artists donated by James M. Cowan. Additional gallery spaces provide a venue for a variety of temporary shows and exhibits.

Nashville Parthenon Timeline

1895 – Tennessee Centennial organizers lay the first foundation stone of the Nashville Parthenon. The Parthenon, made of plaster, wood and brick, is the first building to begin construction for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition.

1897 – The Tennessee Centennial Exposition is held May 1 – October 30, 1897. Like a world’s fair, all the exhibit buildings are temporary and made of inexpensive materials. Over the six month duration, approximately 1.8 million people attend the Centennial.

1898 – The majority of the Centennial buildings are moved or destroyed. The Parthenon remains the centerpiece of the empty fair grounds.

1901 – The Nashville Board of Parks is created.

1902 – Centennial Park is established out of much of the Tennessee Centennial grounds. The Parthenon stands at the center of the new municipal park.

1915 – The temporary nature of the plaster Centennial Parthenon is obvious. The pediment sculptures are removed for safety reasons.

1920 – The city of Nashville decides to make the Parthenon a permanent aggregate concrete structure. Local architect Russell Hart is hired for the reconstruction.

1925 – The exterior of the newly reconstructed Parthenon is complete.

1927 – From 1927 – 1929, James Cowan donates 63 paintings to the city of Nashville with the understanding that they will hang in the newly renovated Parthenon.

1931 – The interior of the replica is complete. The Parthenon re-opens to the public as a city museum on May 20, 1931.

1954 – 1967 The Harvey’s Nativity Scene is displayed in front of the Parthenon every Christmas.

1982 – Alan LeQuire is commissioned to re-create Athena Parthenos in Nashville.

1987 – 1988 Interior renovation of the lower level is completed, providing improved galleries, art storage, exhibit prep areas, a new gift shop, and expanded restroom facilities.

1990 – The Nashville Athena Parthenos is unveiled to the public on May 20, 1990.

1991 – A fence surrounds the Parthenon as restoration begins.

2001 – The restoration of Nashville’s Parthenon is complete and the official unveiling celebration is held on December 31, 2001.

2002 – June 3 – the Athena statue is placed back in scaffolding as the gilding process begins. The statue is being gilded in gold to more closely resemble the original Athena Parthenos