Museum Beginnings

A history chiseled in stone

The history of the Museum of Science & History is literally chiseled in stone – pink marble to be exact. It’s a story that began with the Pink Palace Mansion, originally designed to be the dream home of wealthy entrepreneur Clarence Saunders, founder of the Piggly Wiggly grocery chain. The Mansion’s distinctive pink marble façade led to the nickname of Saunders “Pink Palace”.

Saunders ensuing legal dispute with the New York Exchange forced him into bankruptcy leaving his Pink Palace unfinished and eventually being given to the city of Memphis in the late 1920s for use as a museum. For nearly half a century, the Museum continued to expand its exhibits and reputation as a leading regional museum of science and natural history.

In 1975, an additional multi-story building was constructed alongside the Mansion Museum that greatly expanded the exhibit space and eventually became the Pink Palace Museum home to the Bodine Exhibit Hall, the Giant Screen Theater and Sharpe Planetarium and later became what is now the Museum of Science & History.

Explore the Museum Today