Plans have been announced for a new Nashville museum and restaurant honouring country giant Merle Haggard. It will be overseen by Bill and Shannon Miller, the founders of Icon Entertainment Group, who already run the museums dedicated to Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline, both on 3rd Avenue South in the downtown area of Music City. The new complex, the Merle Haggard Museum and Merle’s Meat + 3 Saloon, will be housed next door at No. 121.
The Millers have worked with Haggard's family to curate performance wardrobes, instruments, professional and personal possessions and are now in the process of designing interactive exhibits for the museum. The plans were unveiled on the 50th anniversary of the release of Merle's country staple 'Sing Me Back Home.'
Haggard's widow Theresa comments: “The world lost one of the greatest country singers of all time, and I lost the love of my life, when Merle Haggard died on his 79th birthday [on] 6 April 2016. Now, nearly one and half years later, I have partnered with my friends Bill and Shannon Miller, owners of the acclaimed Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline Museums to open the Merle Haggard Museum.
“Merle would be very happy knowing that his museum will be next door to his dear friend Johnny Cash. I'm sure he is up there smiling about that. Our family is also very excited about the Merle-themed restaurant and bar featuring first-class, Southern home cooking and a saloon to boot. This museum will be a way to preserve and share the love Merle had for music and life.”
Bill Miller, for his part, adds: "My family is honoured to join with our dear friends, the Haggard family, to bring a new, world-class museum to Nashville. Merle Haggard is one of the most iconic country music singers and songwriters of all time. Rolling Stone and Billboard magazines both named him the number one country entertainer of all-time.
“We are very excited to begin the process of designing and building Merle's museum which will also feature a Southern-style restaurant and saloon bearing his name. We are thrilled to be working with long time Nashville family restaurant operator David Swett, who brings his highly respected expertise to our restaurant. Swett's opened their doors in 1954 and is still going strong."
Merle’s Meat + 3 Saloon will be located on the ground level of the building, with the Merle Haggard Museum on an upper floor. Planned for a summer of 2018 opening, the restaurant will be operated by the Swett Family, who as Miller says, are a Nashville fixture with their long-running Swett's Restaurant.