Hugo Norton Dixon, who made a fortune as a cotton broker, and his wife, Margaret, bought 17 acres on the east edge of Memphis in 1939. Their house was built to overlook the gardens and was a showplace for the Dixon’s art collection of Impressionist and post Impressionist art. The house, art collections, and gardens were bequeathed for the public to enjoy upon the deaths of the Dixons in 1974.
The art galleries are located in the Dixon house and feature their collection along with more recent acquisitions including a large collection of eighteenth-century German porcelain. Sculptures are located in four themed gardens.
The museum is accessible. The cutting garden has paved paths and the woodland garden has hard packed crushed stone paths but the rest of the gardens have steps and loose gravel paths and are not accessible. The conservatory has a short steep ramp without a landing and a door that opens outward making entering awkward.