Greater Louisville’s museums celebrate the things that are unique about the area. Just as there is only one Kentucky Derby and one Muhammad Ali, there is only one Kentucky Derby Museum and one Muhammad Ali Center. Greater Louisville residents are also lucky enough to have a Museum Row that includes several great facilities in a walkable, four-block radius: the Ali Center, Frazier History Museum, the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, Kentucky Science Center, the KentuckyShow!, and the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory.
There are also a host of other great museums in other parts of the community. The Portland Museum, the Speed Art Museum, and the Howard Steamboat Museum across the river in Jeffersonville, Indiana, are only a few examples. There are many options for patrons looking to educate and/or entertain themselves.
“ “A lot of planning went into the museums, especially downtown. It is convenient for visitors to be able to walk and ditch the car.”
– Jeanie Kahnke, Senior Director of Public Relations at the Ali Center
Jeanie Kahnke, the Senior Director of Public Relations at the Ali Center, says the number of museums, and the infrastructure built up around them, illustrates Greater Louisville’s commitment to culture. Greater Louisville recently started the Main Ticket program, which allows patrons to visit all of the downtown museums for one price. Kahnke says the program illustrates the kind of thinking that sets Greater Louisville apart from other municipalities.
“I’m from Washington, D.C., where they are museums everywhere, so I can appreciate what we have in Louisville,” Kahnke says. “A lot of planning went into the museums, especially downtown. It is convenient for visitors to be able to walk and ditch the car. I don’t think they could have done anything better. It makes you proud to live in this city.”
Frazier History Museum
829 W. Main St.
Take an unforgettable journey through 1,000 years of history and explore one of the greatest collections of arms, armor and related historical artifacts in the world. Interactive displays, state-of-the-art multi-media presentations and dynamic performances by costumed interpreters add to the experience. A variety of special events and programs are offered. (You can even buy a historically inspired fragrance there.) Open Mon. – Sat., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., Noon-5 p.m.
Historic Locust Grove
561 Blankenbaker Ln.
Final residence of George Rogers Clark, a national historic landmark on 55 acres. Extensive museum gallery displays artifacts and information about the American Revolution in this region and the life of George Rogers Clark. Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Sun., 1-4:30 p.m.
Kentucky Derby Museum
704 Central Ave.
(Gate 1 at Churchill Downs)
The Kentucky Derby Museum offers two floors of exciting exhibits giving visitors an in-depth look into thoroughbred racing and the Kentucky Derby. Visitors can experience the thrill of the Kentucky Derby, the excitement of the crowds and the thunder of the hooves every day with the museum’s 360-degree, high-definition video, “The Greatest Race.” See horses up close on the track with backside, behind-the-scene and walking tours of Churchill Downs. Open Mon.-Sat., 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m. -5 p.m. Opens weekdays at 9 a.m., Dec. 1 – Mar. 14.
Kentucky Science Center & IMAX Theatre
727 W. Main St.
(across from the Louisville Slugger Museum)
A great place for both young and experienced learners, the Science Center includes interactive exhibits, a KidZone play and learning area and a four-story IMAX theatre. The Science Center offers a creative approach to understanding science, mathematics and technology, with 40,000 square feet of interactive exhibits, educational programs and special events. Open Mon.-Thurs. & Sun, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; Fri. & Sat., 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory
800 W. Main St.
Home to the official bat of Major League Baseball, the Louisville Slugger Museum and factory offers a fascinating and fun tour of the bat factory. And, it’s easy to find. Just look for the 120-foot bat on display along Main Street. Museum visitors can face down a 90-mph fastball, discover a prehistoric ball glove and step into “Bud’s Batting Cage” to take a swing. Free mini bats are offered with the tour and personalized bats are available for purchase. The museum offers a nostalgic tribute to baseball’s greatest hits and hitters with displays of actual bats swung by legendary sluggers like Hank Aaron. Guided factory tours available; check website for exact times. Museum open Mon.-Sat., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., Noon-5 p.m. July 1 through Aug. 15, open until 6 p.m.
Muhammad Ali Center
One Muhammad Ali Plaza
144 N. Sixth St.
This $60 million, one-of-a-kind facility has celebrated the deeply rooted values and worldwide influence of Louisville’s most famous native son – Muhammad Ali – for more than seven years now. The 93,000 square foot Ali Center features an orientation theater, media stations and interactive exhibits through which visitors will learn about Muhammad Ali, as well as have an opportunity to embark on their own personal discovery. Also included in the facility is the Howard L. Bingham Gallery, LeRoy Neiman Gallery, a library, retail shop, café, auditorium and theater. Hours are Tues.-Sat. 9:30 a.m.- 5 p.m.; Sun., Noon-5 p.m.
347 Spring St.
Schimpff’s has one of the few candy museums in the United States. It displays thousands of pieces of American candy memorabilia and represents decades of collecting candy equipment and artifacts. Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.; closed Sun.
The Speed Art Museum
2035 S. Third St.
Established in 1927, the Speed Art Museum is Kentucky’s oldest and largest art museum with more than 14,000 pieces in its permanent collection. Its extensive collection spans 6,000 years, ranging from ancient Egyptian to contemporary art. In September of 2012, The Speed broke ground on a $50 million, 200,000-square foot expansion. The museum will be closed for approximately three years until its re-opening in late 2015.