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Patsy Cline Museum: 10 Must-See Items

New Nashville museum includes her home stereo console and the watch she was wearing in the plane crash that took her life

Patsy Cline

The Patsy Cline Museum is now open in downtown Nashville.

GAB Archive/Getty

Nashville, already home to some of the country’s finest musical museums and attractions, has a brand new one: the Patsy Cline Museum. Housed above the downtown space where the Johnny Cash Museum, opened in 2013 by Cline museum founder Bill Miller, is already attracting crowds, the April 7th grand opening gave visitors a glimpse into the unconventional life and career of the late pop-country songstress.

With just three studio albums to her credit, and two Number One country singles in her lifetime, Patsy Cline was nevertheless marked for even greater stardom before her life – and the lives of fellow Opry stars Hawkshaw Hawkins and Cowboy Copas – ended in tragedy when she was killed in a plane crash near Camden, Tennessee on March 5th, 1963. She was 30 years old. But, due in part to the singer’s pure pop-country voice and commanding presence, her legacy has endured and influenced generations of performers.

Here are the 10 coolest, can’t-miss items on display at the Patsy Cline Museum, now open on 3rd Avenue in downtown Nashville.

Patsy Cline Museum

Courtesy of PLA Media

Patsy’s Expansive Letters

Cline was an avid letter-writer and corresponded not only with family, but with fans who then became like family to her. In the beautifully penned letters, some of which stretched to 10 pages, she would recount the sometimes difficult days on the road, and ask all about the goings-on in the lives of the people with whom she was corresponding. Many of those letters are now on display, written on whatever stationery the singer had available at the time. There are also interactive screens that allow visitors to flip through the pages and read them in their entirety.

Patsy Cline Museum

Courtesy of PLA Media

The Plane Crash

While some of the items recovered at the site of the 1963 plane crash have previously been on display at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, such as Cline’s Confederate flag lighter, the items in this collection are among the most poignant to be found anywhere, including the silver Elgin wristwatch that Patsy was wearing at the time of the crash. The watch was a gift from her husband. Also recovered was the 1963 pocket diary kept by Randy Hughes, Cline’s manager who was piloting the plane and was also killed. It contained a record of all of the singer’s tour dates and the amounts she was paid for them. Her final concert, in Kansas City, is not included in the diary, however, as it was a benefit show. A floral handkerchief worn by Patsy’s mother, Hilda Hensley, at her funeral and memorial service is also included, along with a telegram from Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley’s manager, expressing his, his wife’s and Presley’s condolences to Cline’s family and remembering her as “one of the great artists of our time with a bright future.” 

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