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Rediscover The Speed Art Museum




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The Speed Art Museum is Kentucky’s largest art museum with a collection that spans from ancient Greek and Roman times to the contemporary, illustrating 6,000 years of “human creativity”.  After a three year closure for renovation and expansion, the newly-designed Speed re-opened to the public in March 2016 and offers an amazing display of art ranging from traditional folk art to contemporary.

The new design includes double the amount of exhibit space from the original museum with a Grand Hall for performances, lectures and entertaining.  The renovation also includes a new 142 seat-cinema, contemporary arts gallery, museum store, indoor/outdoor café, and interactive Arts Spark area for young and old to actively engage their imaginations in the surrounding art. 

The Cressman Art Park and public piazza features creative artworks and sculptures to engage visitors and students while also giving the thousands of University of Louisville students who walk past the Speed each day the ability to connect with great art, creativity and architecture. Another new addition is the 142-seat cinema that will play a mix of independent and international films with screening twice weekly.    

Founded in 1925, by local philanthropist Hattie Bishop Speed, the original museum building was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and is a beautiful example of the neoclassical architecture of the time period.  The 2016 expansion, designed by world renowned architect Kulapat Yantrasast and his firm wHY, seamlessly combines this classical architecture with a stunning contemporary addition.

Old Favorites and New Additions 
With the recent expansion, the Speed now has additional gallery space for contemporary art as well as temporary exhibits.  The museum is home to a large number of permanent collections including those that focus on European, American, Native American and African art.  Some notable pieces include Rembrandt’s Portrait of a Woman and the completely restored English Renaissance room, reassembled from a 1619 country home in southwest England with floor to ceiling white oak carved panels.  

The contemporary gallery space is 62,500 square feet with 400 glass panels which each have a unique “rain” pattern to reflect light. The large installation, “Kentucky Sunlight (Lincoln’s Birthday)” by artist Spencer Finch hangs from the center of the space to invite visitors into the modern gallery which houses temporary and permanent exhibits.  

While the Speed features art from all over the world, it also interprets the history of Kentucky in the Kentucky Gallery.  This collection highlights decorative arts such as furniture, silver, jewelry, stoneware as well as paintings and folk art.    

Art Sparks – Connecting Art through Experience
The interactive Art Sparks area brings art alive for young and old with different stations, games and activities designed to engage visitors in “noticing, making and talking” about art.   Examples of this visitor engagement include a giant wall sized light board where you can direct beams of light and explore color, a station with materials for drawing and creating your own work of art, or a word association card game designed to have you discuss how different works of art evoke certain feelings.  


If you go
The Speed Art Museum is located at 2355 West Third Street in Louisville.  It’s open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m., closed on Mondays.  Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for kids age 8-17 and free for kids under 3, $8 for seniors and military personnel.  Through March 2021 admission on Sundays are free (except for special exhibits) through a generous grant from the Brown Forman Corporation in honor of the late Owsley Brown II.  There are a number of adult and youth workshops offered throughout the year.  For complete details, directions, workshop and other special event schedules and museum map, visit www.speedmuseum.org