Frist Center


The Frist Center for the Visual Arts is an art museum in Nashville, Tennessee, housed in the city’s historic U.S. Post Office building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.



The museum is housed in a white marble building that was built in the 1930s to serve as Nashville’s main post office. Designed by Marr & Holman Architects, it was built in 1933-34. Its location near Union Station was convenient for mail distribution, since most mail at that time was moved by train.

By the 1980s, downtown was no longer a good location for postal distribution. When a new main post office was built near the airport in 1986, the historic old facility became a downtown branch using only a small portion of one floor.

In the early 1990s Thomas F. Frist, Jr., and his family, through the charitable Frist Foundation, identified the post office building as a good location for a proposed downtown art museum. The Foundation implemented a public-private venture between the foundation, the U.S. Postal Service, and the city of Nashville. In 1999 the City of Nashville acquired the building from the U.S. Postal Service for the purpose of creating the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, paying $4.4 million. The city contributed $15 million toward renovation of the building, and the Frist Foundation and Frist family contributed $25 million for the renovation and to start an endowment for the art museum. The city owns the building, but granted the Frist Center a 99-year lease for $1 per year. A renovated post office branch was opened in the basement in 1999.

The museum opened in April 2001. The art center consists of approximately 24,000 square feet (2,200 m2) of gallery space, used to present visual art from local, state and regional artists, as well as major U.S. and international exhibitions.