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History Comes Alive at Kentucky Museums



If you’re a fan of fine jewelry, toy soldiers, horses, vintage fire trucks or country music, you’ll find museums and exhibitions in Kentucky dedicated to these and other unique interests.

The Headley-Whitney Museum near Lexington offers a permanent decorative and fine arts collection and is now featuring “The Cutting Edge II,” an exhibit of more than 20 contemporary jewelers and gem carvers on display until July 8. The exhibit focuses on gems highlighted in necklaces, brooches, rings, eyewear, pens and spoons, among other objects.

Meanwhile, the Frazier History Museum in Louisville is expanding its focus on arms and history to include a permanent display of one of the nation’s largest collections of toy soldiers. The Frazier has integrated its vast toy soldier collection throughout its permanent galleries, which cover more than 1,000 years of world and American history.

At the International Museum of the Horse at the Kentucky Horse Park, in addition to permanent displays on the history of the horse, there is also the acclaimed exhibition titled Angels for Horses, which explores the history of The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and includes sculptures, oil painting, historical documents, and the organization's founding charter. 

The Woody Winfree Fire-Transportation Museum in Hopkinsville features historic fire trucks, automobiles, carriages, wagons and various firefighter memorabilia. Housed in the city’s original fire station, which opened in 1905, the museum displays the building’s original 22 foot brass pole, along with the city’s first fire truck. Also on view are historic site and fire photos and the hats of firemen who served from the station.

For country music lovers, the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Renfro Valley is a must-see for its instruments, costumes and memorabilia of many famous stars. The museum’s instrument room allows visitors to see, touch, hear and perform. A functioning sound booth permits visitors to sing and record. A timeline with dioramas takes visitors from the beginnings of Kentucky music on the front porch to much more extensive venues.

Unlike other museums, the Civil War Museum in Bardstown focuses mainly on the war of the western states. The museum houses myriad artifacts from both Union and Confederacy.  In addition, the adjacent Women’s Civil War Museum is the only museum dedicated to the various roles women played during the conflict.

Whatever your interest, you’re likely to find a museum in Kentucky that caters to it. Explore more options at