The state of Kentucky is home to some amazing history and culture spread through urban centers such as Louisville and Lexington and natural wonders like the Appalachian Mountains and Mammoth Cave National Park. With so many incredible things to see in Kentucky, a great way to learn more about the state is through visiting some incredible museums that celebrate art, history, culture, sports, and so much more. These are some of the best museums that should definitely be enjoyed while spending time in Kentucky!
Kentucky Derby Museum
One of the things that Kentucky is most famous for is the annual Kentucky Derby and the event is so popular and historical that it is home to its own museum in the city of Louisville. The Kentucky Derby Museum first opened in 1985 and recently underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation to now welcome visitors to explore exhibits and interactive tours. While enjoying the museum, visitors can check out exhibits including Horsing Around with Art, “The Greatest Race,” D. Wayne Lukas: The Modern Trainer, Riders Up, The Winner’s Circle, A Century of the Crown, and more. A variety of special tours are also available throughout the year including the Bourbon and Bridles Tour, Behind the Scenes Walking Tour, Off Season Barn and Backside Tour, and Horses & Haunts Tour. With so much history and plenty of amazing exhibits and tours to enjoy, a visit to the Kentucky Derby Museums is a must while in the state!
Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory
Another popular museum located in the city of Louisville, Kentucky has deep historical roots in one of the most popular American sports. The Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory began in the mid-1800s when John Andrew Hillerich began apprenticing in his father’s woodworking shop and started crafting his own baseball bats to use in games with friends.
Over the years, the bats became popular with famous baseball players and ultimately the museum and factory were opened in their current location in 1996. Visitors to the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory can enjoy a Factory Tour where they can see firsthand the production line in action. After enjoying the tour, visitors can check out highlights of the museum including the Signature Wall, Bat Vault, Bud’s Batting Cage, and more.
Great American Dollhouse Museum
The small city of Danville, Kentucky is located just outside of Lexington and is home to a unique museum that is housed in a building that was originally constructed in 1939 and used as an armory. The Great American Dollhouse Museum was opened in 2006 and features several amazing exhibits that showcase the craftsmanship of dollhouse construction as well as the progression of designs and pieces over time.
The dollhouses are arranged to represent the progression of time ranging from Native Americans in the United States to modern day and visitors can also walk through the streets of Copper Hollow where houses, businesses, and more can be observed. With such incredible levels of detail and a wonderful Miniatures Store to peruse at the end of a visit, the Great American Dollhouse Museum celebrates the craftsmanship and history of a unique art form.
National Corvette Museum
Car lovers traveling through the state of Kentucky are sure to love an impressive museum located in the city of Bowling Green. The National Corvette Museum celebrates the history and production of the beloved car company and was founded by Terry McManmon. Situated on the property of the Corvette Assembly Plant, the museum features exhibits such as the History of Corvette Racing, Autozone Maintenance & Preservation Area, Enthusiast Area Design & Engineering Area, and Skydome & Hall of Fame.
In addition to the exhibits, visitors can enjoy a short film on the history of Corvette in the Chevrolet Theater as well as take a free guided tour offered on weekdays. Throughout the year there are also special events at the National Corvette Museum including Car Shows and the Museum in Motion program. This is a great museum for visitors of all ages to enjoy in Kentucky!
Conrad-Caldwell House Museum
Louisville is also home to a museum that has been painstakingly restored to the Edwardian Age and celebrates the life and legacy of two of the area’s most renowned businessmen. The Conrad-Caldwell House Museum tells the stories of Theophile Conrad and William Caldwell and has been run as a non-profit museum by the St. James Court Historic Foundation since 1987.
Daily tours are offered to visitors to showcase the décor and opulent items that were popular in the Edwardian Age as well as share history about the two men and their families. In addition to tours, the Conrad-Caldwell House Museum hosts special events such as Candlelight Tours, Suffragette Tea, and Storytime with Nanny. This step back in history is a wonderful way to learn more about the past of Louisville and some of its most prominent citizens.
Muhammad Ali Center
Museum Row in Louisville is a small cluster in the city that is home to several wonderful locations including a multicultural center with an amazing museum. The Muhammad Ali Center is home to several events spaces as well as the Leroy Neiman Gallery were artwork of the famous athlete is on display throughout two levels.
In addition the gallery, the museum located inside of the center features immersive and educational exhibits that focus on the six core principles of Ali’s life: confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, respect, and spirituality. Some of the exhibits that visitors can enjoy include Journeylines, Ali the Artist, Train with Ali, The Greatest, Ali All the Time, Lighting the Way, and the Ina B. Bond Gallery. With a fascinating and inspirational look into one of the most beloved athletes of all time, the Muhammad Ali Center is a great way to spend time in Louisville.
Frazier History Museum
Downtown Louisville features a wonderful museum that celebrates the history of the United States and the world with a particular focus on the great state of Kentucky. The Frazier History Museum was founded in 2004 by Owsley Brown Frazier and currently boasts a vast array of items and artifacts including over thirty thousand figurines including toy soldiers and other figurines.
Visitors to the museum can enjoy incredible exhibits including Woodford Reserve & The Kentucky Derby: Two Decades of Artistry, Bourbon, and Horse Racing, Lewis & Clark Experience, Celebrating the Sounds of Kentucky, The Spirit of Kentucky, and The Stewart Historic Miniatures Collection. In addition to the permanent collection and rotating exhibits, the Frazier History Museum also hosts special events like Pop-Up Camps, Tastings, Family Days, and the Let’s Talk Series.