6 Cool Extras to Find on Your Tour of The Ryman

Behind the Ryman’s stained-glass windows, on every tour and during every visit, you can feel the building’s 130 years of history. But you can also read all about it, and see the relics of the Ryman’s awe-inspiring influence on music and pop culture. On every tour, you can see how the Union Gospel Tabernacle, a religious sanctuary in 1892, has transformed into today’s Ryman Auditorium, music’s most iconic stage. See if you can find some of our favorite spots at the Mother Church that are often overlooked.

Carved Into Stone

Before you step into the building, there’s already some important stuff to see outside. The Ryman’s Icon Walk is home to statues of Country Music Hall of Famer Loretta Lynn, bluegrass trailblazer Bill Monroe, and the Grand Ole Opry’s beloved Little Jimmy Dickens. Start at the statue of Captain Thomas Ryman, often wearing a Nashville Predators jersey, at the front of the auditorium and take a lap around the building to see and read about the biggest pillars of the Ryman’s musical history.

A Grand Entrance

Even the building’s alleyways are culturally and historically significant. The artists that take the stage at the Ryman today, go through the same artist entrance that those who took the stage 100 years ago did. Go through the alleyway between the Ryman and Tootsies to see the black iron gates [BJ1] that countless musicians, politicians, and leaders have walked through. You can even see Sissy Spacek at the artist’s entrance in the 1980 Loretta Lynn biopic “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”

Hall of Fame

These hallowed halls are decorated with hundreds of Hatch Show Prints, from the famous letterpress shop, for the countless artists who have performed at the Ryman. On the white brick wall at the entrance of the second floor of the auditorium, there are dozens of signed posters from decades of legendary performances. Artists like Coldplay, Dolly Parton, Kacey Musgraves, and The Temptations have expressed their thanks to the Ryman on the iconic posters. See if you can find one from your favorite artist.

Front Stage Behavior

On your tour, you can step on stage and get your photo taken and printed. Before or after you pose for our professional photographer, make sure you look down. In 2012, the Ryman’s oak plank stage was replaced with Brazilian teak – a much harder and darker wood that could withstand three times the weight of the oak. To preserve the stage’s unparalleled history, wood from the previous stage was installed at the front of the new one. So, artists and visitors can still stand on the stage where thousands of legends have stood.

A Church Pew Built For Two

In the back of the main floor, in section one right in front of the Air Castle Studio recording booth, is the Ryman’s smallest pew. Row V is comprised of only one pew, and that one pew only has enough room for two people. Every pew inside Ryman Auditorium was built to fit perfectly in its place, like one big puzzle. Consequently, row v had just enough room for two. Now, it’s one of the Ryman’s most instagrammable spots and a special option for concertgoers who like to sit close.

The Doors to The Soul

While the tabernacle’s original doors didn’t quite fit into the Ryman’s 1994 renovation plans, they’re still hanging close to their original home. On the first floor of the Auditorium, right before the Fourth Ave exit, the giant and ornate Tennessee Poplar wood pocket doors are on display. The doors were installed to exhibit the decorative art of the Ryman. However, according to their plaque, “like the countless other visitors who came to pray, listen, view, and witness the great events of Nashville’s and the Ryman’s performing many, these doors, as a testimony to those and their audiences welcome you to the future with a dedication to the past.”

See how we’re celebrating the Ryman’s 130th anniversary this year and get tickets to take a tour or see a show at music’s most iconic stage here.