The Cotton Museum at the Memphis Cotton Exchange (65 Union Ave., 901/531-7826, www.memphiscottonmuseum.org , Tues.–Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sun. noon–5 p.m., adults $5, seniors $4.50, students $4, children 6–12 $3) is located in the broad rectangular room that once was the nerve center of the Mid-South’s cotton trade.
The Cotton Exchange was established in 1873, and it was here that buyers and sellers of the South’s most important cash crop met, and where fortunes were made and lost. Located just steps away from the Mississippi River, the Exchange was the trading floor of Cotton Row, the area of town that was defined by the cotton industry.
The Cotton Museum features exhibits about cotton’s history, its uses, and the culture that its cultivation gave rise to in Memphis  and the Mississippi Delta. There are several videos you can watch, as well as a live Internet feed of today’s cotton exchange—now conducted entirely electronically.
The nicest thing about the museum, however, is seeing the chalkboard where the prices of cotton around the world were written by hand. There is also a replica of the Western Union office where buyers and sellers sent telegrams using an intricate system of abbreviations known only to the cotton trade.