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The Kentucky Museum – Current Exhibits

Ground Floor

Clinton Lewis in Peru
The Lewis Lens
July 26, 2023 - March 31, 2024

Official staff photographer for WKU and all satellite campuses, Clinton Lewis has spent fifteen years as a hidden gem of our campus and community. This exhibition highlights Clinton's work in editorial photojournalism, advertising and commercial photography, outdoor adventure, fine art landscape photography, and graphic design. 

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First Floor

"Chicken" folk art piece
Kentucky Folk Art
through June 30, 2025

The Kentucky Museum collection includes more than 750 examples of folk art, which is sometimes defined as a "creative work that is based within a specific or localized tradition." Thanks to a three-year digitization grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, our Folk Art collection is in process of being fully digitized. This exhibit features several of our favorite pieces, but you can also go to kencat.wku.edu to see more examples.

Jonesville mural design
Jonesville Buon Fresco Mural

Local artist Alice Gatewood Waddell and WKU professor and artist Mike Nichols collaborated on a buon fresco mural commemorating Bowling Green’s Jonesville community. Supported by a grant from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, the mural provided internships for three WKU students – Aisha Salifu, Cecilia Morris, and Riley O’Loane – who worked alongside Waddell and Nichols to make the vision come to life.

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Our Town
Our Town
August 30, 2023 - March 2, 2024

In 2008, the Kentucky Museum and Department of Library Collections and Discovery invited our community to share their family photographs for documentation in our archives. As a primary source, photographs provide direct evidence of events and time periods used by researchers to learn about what was important to people who lived at the time and to discover what their lives were like. Submitted photographs documented life in Bowling Green from the 1890s to 1980s, and provide a look at nearly 100 years in "Our Town." What do you see when you look at these photographs?

Gazing Deeply title card
Gazing Deeply: The Art and Science of Mammoth Cave
February 2020 - December 2, 2023

Gazing Deeply showcases how WKU’s backyard—the unique landscape of Mammoth Cave—is being studied, interpreted, and inspiring action on environmental change. Coinciding with the UNESCO Conservation of Fragile Karst Resources: A Workshop on Sustainability and Community and Earth Day’s 50th anniversary in 2020, this exhibition is a collaborative effort between arts and science faculty and students that highlights one of the most well-known and vital natural landscapes in the world. 

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Lego Big Red with costumed Big Red
Lego Big Red

While visiting the Museum, be sure and take a selfie with Lego Big Red, located in the first floor Window Gallery. 

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Excacation of a house showing various levels
First Farmers of the Barren River Valley
September 9, 2022 - July 2025

This exhibition highlights diverse aspects of pre-contact Native American farm life in the Barren River valley. Utilizing results of recent excavations by the Kentucky Archaeological Survey, First Farmers displays and interprets findings related to technology, settlement, foodways, society/politics, and economics/trade that reveal life in a farming village circa 1350 CE.

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Teaching Gallery

New exhibition coming Spring 2025!

Ancient Near East in Kentucky
Ancient Near East in Kentucky
January 2022 - June 30, 2025

This exhibit primarily focuses on the role of writing in two early urban societies, Mesopotamia and Egypt. The artifacts are roughly 4,300 to 3,000 years old. In the 19th century, museums and libraries throughout the Western world acquired cultural artifacts from ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, often from a desire to connect with what they considered the origins of Western civilization or Biblical History.

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Coral Reef
Coral Reef
through February 1, 2024

Coral Reef is a large-scale, collaborative printmaking installation created by 47 students enrolled in Associate Professor Marilee Salvator’s Printmaking Relief and Screenprinting classes in the Department of Art and Design during Fall 2019, Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 semesters. This second print installation at the museum explores the marine biome.

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Gabrielle Robertson
Flashback: 1939

Discover how the Kentucky Museum was created! Featuring a timeline and archival photos, this display between our Community and Student Research galleries explores how our home, the Kentucky Building, came to life.

Duncan Hines exhibit
Recommended by Duncan Hines
through August 1, 2025

Featuring the life and work of the Bowling Green native, this collection of artifacts includes an outstanding collection from the Bowling Green Area Convention and Visitors’ Bureau. Visitors will learn about Hines’ career as a writer on travel, dining and entertaining, as well as his transition to a "name brand" icon and pioneer in the world of packaged food.

Photo Gallery

Lancaster Rifles case
L. Y. Lancaster Gun Collection

Thirteen guns in two cases tell the story of how a hobby can make a person an authority. Dr. L. Y. Lancaster (1893-1980), best known as a professor of biological sciences and a mentor of pre-med students at Western Kentucky University for 37 years, collected and restored 19th flintlock and percussion lock long rifles. The earliest dated gun in the case is a flintlock from the late 1820s. For many Kentuckians, this case provides their first look at a double barrel shotgun.


Second Floor

POW: Process Oriented Works

Process Oriented Works showcase various techniques such as engraving and collaging which allow the artist's  finished piece to leave clues to how it was made.  The accumulation of marks or overlapping of colors highlight the process for each piece and the nonobjective and objective styles focus on the detail in the seemingly ordinary.  The thoughtfulness within each piece speaks to the process that was chosen, inviting contemplation about each individuals own everyday process.

Continent to Commonwealth
Continent to Commonwealth: Asian/Asian American Kentucky Art
September 6 to 23, 2023

This traveling exhibition features the works of Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) visual artists living in Kentucky, who share their experiences of the Commonwealth. Sponsored by the Kentucky Arts Council in partnership with the Asia Institute-Crane House and the Kentucky Chinese American Association. 

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Third Floor


View of the Snell-Franklin Gallery
Snell-Franklin Decorative Arts Gallery

Objects in this exhibition are all related to Kentucky in some way. Furniture is displayed in relation to time and style with silver, glass, ceramics, paintings and anthropological items, which were used to decorate homes at different periods in history.

Photo Gallery

Stitches in Time
Stitches in Time: 200 Years of Kentucky Quilts
August 30, 2023 - July 27, 2025

Showcasing thirty of the finest quilts in the Kentucky Museum collection, Stitches in Time includes traditional and art quilts ranging in age from the early 19th century to the early 21st century. Quilts on view include a whitework masterpiece made by President George Washington's niece-in-law; a 66,000-piece quilt made by an immigrant from New Zealand in the 1930s; quilts with portraits of Henry Clay and Father Thomas Merton; and several textiles associated with Florence Peto, a leading figure in the second twentieth century quilt revival. 

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facing the freshmen year
Facing the Freshmen Year: Essential Conversations
through December 31, 2024

This exhibit tells the stories of freshmen year from participants in a student success initiative, WKU Freshmen Guided Pathway (FGP). This cohort of first-time, full-time students who graduated from one of five high schools in Warren County represent the typical WKU freshman in terms of academic achievement prior to admission and their demographic makeup.

FGP assists students as they negotiate the often difficult affective and academic shifts between high school and college. Learn more about the program in this exhibit, presented by the Kelly M. Burch Institute for Transformative Practices in Higher Education, Office of Strategic Communications and Marketing, the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, the WKU Center for Literacy, and the Kentucky Museum.

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Felts Log House
Felts Log House
Ongoing, weather permitting

The Kentucky Museum's log house is a permanent exhibit. Donated to the Kentucky Building in 1980, the house was built in Logan County around 1810. Until 1968, it was occupied by descendants of the original owner, Archibald Felts (1758-1825). The Felts House has been restored to an approximation of its earliest appearance. Visitors may tour inside the house during normal museum hours by asking at our front desk. 

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Museum Courtyard exhibit
HAD Artist Collective Murals

Anel Lepić and Muhamed “Hamo” Bešlagic, two HAD Collective artists from Bosnia, carved murals in the Kentucky Museum courtyard. Letić and Bešlagić specialize in the wall cut technique to create their murals. The murals were unveiled Friday, March 2.  

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 Last Modified 9/22/23