Keith Urban was on hand to personally launch a new exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville on Tuesday evening (Dec. 1). Keith Urban So Far is a career-spanning exhibit featuring an impressive collection of archival items from the various phases of the superstar's long and storied career.

The exhibit begins with Urban's childhood, when he began performing at talent shows and on TV competitions in his native Australia before he was even 10 years old. His mother contributed a number of items that she had saved from that period, including a handwritten postcard that he sent his parents, some of his father's vinyl records that were an early musical influence, and some elaborate stage costumes that he wore for some early performances.

"It's amazing the things that my mom has kept," Urban told reporters at a press conference at the Hall of Fame on Tuesday evening, right after viewing the exhibit for the first time. "Some of these things I haven't seen since I was a little kid, so it's kind of crazy. God bless her for keeping all of this stuff ... I guarantee you she's kept just as much stuff from my brother and his swimming and his various sporting achievements," he added with a laugh.

The items on hand provide a timeline of the slow build of Urban's career, including his brief, somewhat thankless time with a band called the Ranch, which gave him his entry into the American country music market, but ultimately proved a frustrating chapter in his life.

"It took so long" for his career to take off, Urban reflected. "You just keep going, I guess. All I ever knew to do was keep going. They call it a five-year town, and I think it took a little longer than that for me. But it was remarkable that people kept believing in me and kept persevering in the midst of all that stuff, particularly with the Ranch ... It just never went anywhere."

Urban admitted there were some dark times during that period.

"There was definitely times when I didn't know what else to do," he acknowledged. "Through the mid-to-late '90s, which not coincidentally was my first trip to Cumberland Heights [rehab facility] in 1998. I didn't know how to cope; I didn't know what else to do. When you're doing your best and it's not working, I'm not quite sure what you're meant to do next. I felt like, 'I'm doing my best ... I don't know what else to do,' other than just keep doing it and wait for something to break, something to work. But we always seemed to have enough people around us in the band, and me as an artist, to believe in me. There were always those angels who kept me believing in myself."

That belief obviously paid off, with Urban subsequently launching one of the most commercially successful and critically respected solo careers of any musician of his generation. Part of the exhibit is devoted to his many awards, including Golden Guitars from Australia, CMA and Grammy Awards from over the years. Keith Urban So Far also touches on some of his favorite instruments and gear, as well as his philanthropy.

Urban has been sober for nearly a decade now, which has led to even greater career success. He attributed that squarely to his wife, Nicole Kidman, and her faith in him, which was tested when he went into rehab for the third and final time in 2006, not long after they married.

"In so many ways, it was the most powerful act of love in reaching into the fire and pulling me out, because she believed in me, and she saw something in me in such a way that she risked everything, everything, to trust me and pull me out of the fire, and let me then do the right thing and move into the light," he stated, adding, "I didn’t know sh-- about it until I met my wife. I didn’t know anything about love. I didn’t know anything about marriage. I didn’t know anything about self sacrifice. I didn’t know anything about taking care of a woman. Nothing. I took hostages. I didn’t have relationships. I took hostages."

"Nicole, God bless you for coming in and seeing something in me, that I may never have seen, but certainly if I ever had, I had long lost sight of that person. And you saw that and you gave me a chance, and I thank you enormously for that," he added, pointing out that for someone who felt Nashville was such an important part of his destiny, he now has two daughters who were born there.

"There’s a great Hemingway quote that says, ‘The world breaks everyone, and afterwards some are strong at the broken place,’ and I feel that that is what my wife brought to me," Urban finished. "I’m strong in the broken places, because she saw something in me, and I love you for that."

Keith Urban So Far is set to run through May 2016.

See Keith Urban and Other Stars as Kids

More From Taste of Country