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The Kentucky Museum – Current Exhibits

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A Culture Carried exhibit

A Culture Carried: Bosnians in Bowling Green

September 30, 2017 - June 30, 2018

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New Kentuckians Exhibit

New Kentuckians

Community Gallery

August 28, 2017 - February 2, 2018

Children's illustrations and stories tell the stories of immigrating to Kentucky through the eyes of children. These are reproductions from work made in an English as a Second Language (ESL) classes in 2001 at Bowling Green's Parker-Bennett Elementary School.

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flower motif


Korea through Kentucky Eyes

Opened April 13, 2017

Quilt exhibit 2016

Backward & Forward: 20th Century Quilts

Elizabeth Richardson Quilt Gallery
Open through January 22, 2018

More than 30 quilts and wall hangings illustrate how Kentucky quiltmakers looked to both the past and to the future for inspiration. In the first part of the 20th century, Americans' interest in their Colonial heritage contributed to a revival in quiltmaking, yet modern trends such as Art Nouveau and Art Deco also brought a contemporary look to the work of some quilters and pattern designers.  The revival that began around the time of the U.S. Bicentennial also had a dual effect with some quilters choosing traditional methods while others began experimenting with modern fabrics, techniques, and motifs.  This divergence in approaches continued into the 21st century.

The quilts on exhibit were selected from the Kentucky Museum's nationally significant collection which numbers more than 250 quilts and textile samples. 

Photo gallery


Instruments of American Excellence

This exhibit features everyday objects used by people in many different fields to achieve extraordinary things. For example, an ordinary hammer was used by President Jimmy Carter to not only build houses for the homeless, but to raise the awareness of Habitat for Humanity. An ordinary paint brush was used by Thomas Kincade to paint the most commercially successful scenes of American life available today.

Photo Gallery

More about the Instruments of American Excellence exhibit


Hoarded Wealth & Invested Profits in Arochuwu, Glasgow, and Virginia: Legacies of the 18th Century Transatlantic Trades in Slaves & Tobacco

This project is co-curated by the WKU Gallery Studies Class, Department of Art, and Dr. Johnston Akuma-Kalu Njoku, Professor of Folk Studies. Using Dr. Njoku’s written articles and photographs, the class translated this compelling research on the legacies of the Triangular Trade into a visual exhibition. His research examines the folklore and material culture surrounding the Igbo slave journeys from their villages in the interior of the former Slave Coast to the United States.


An American Educator in Liberia: The Collection of Dr. Daniel Hays

Dr. Hays, a native of Bowling Green and a WKU alumnus, worked to develop public schools in the rural interior of Liberia during the 1950s and 60s as part of his job with the USAID.  During that time, Hays and his family accumulated a large collection of memorabilia including traditional musical instruments, games, furnishings, sacred objects, and tourist art.  Hays's daughter, Coppelia Hays, generously donated the collection and now visitors can learn about this spirited Kentuckian and the Liberian communities he lived with, worked with, and regarded as friends and family.

This exhibit is a project of the 2012 Fall Semester Museums Studies Class, WKU Department of Folk Studies & Anthropology with support from the Kentucky Museum.

Photo Gallery


Snell-Franklin Decorative Arts Gallery

The Kentucky Museum has many unusual and interesting objects in its collections. All of the objects in this exhibition are related to Kentucky in some way; they were made here, retailed here, or they might be part of a collection put together by a Kentuckian. This gallery displays furniture relation in time and style with silver, glass, ceramics, paintings and anthropological items, which were used to decorate homes at different periods in history.

Photo Gallery



A Star in Each Flag: Conflict in Kentucky

The Civil War, 1861-1865, split the nation apart along the lines of slavery. Kentucky, a southern state with strong ties to north and south, was caught in the middle. This wonderful interactive exhibit explores the Civil War in Kentucky.

Photo Gallery



Recommended by Duncan Hines

"Recommended by Duncan Hines" will include 11 sections featuring the life and work of the Bowling Green native. An extensive collection of artifacts will be on hand including the outstanding collection from the Bowling Green Area Convention and Visitors’ Bureau. The exhibit features these artifacts along with state-of the art media tools so 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

Fireplace of log house

Felts Log House
Closed for the winter season Oct. 30

This log house, built about 1815, is a classic example of traditional Kentucky architecture. The double-pen, two story structure with its dog-trot floor plan and poplar, oak, and walnut construction are typical of the folk architecture of the region. The structure interprets life in rural south central Kentucky in the eighteen-teens using reproduction household furnishings and equipment, tools, and clothing accurate to the period.

Photo Gallery


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.


Hascal Haile: Guitar-maker to the Stars

Monroe County, Kentucky native Hascal "Hack" Haile (1906-1986) began making guitars professionally after retiring from furniture making in the late 1960s. A lifelong musician, he made guitars for classical artists and country musicians alike. This special exhibition case features two of Haile's guitars; an acoustic folk guitar (1983) and a solid body amplified acoustic guitar (1982). Haile received national attention when in 1980 the Smithsonian Institution accepted one of his guitars for its Hall of Musical Instruments and President Jimmy Carter received him at the White House.


Taking the Mystery Out of Prehistory

Long before the first written history in Kentucky, people lived and hunted there. This small exhibit identifies tools, cooking utensils, and ornaments made and used by prehistoric Kentuckians. Ordinary and unusual objects of stone, bone, pottery, and fiber are included and a special display of projectile points identifies spear and arrow tips that span 10,000 years of Kentucky prehistory.

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 Last Modified 10/26/17