A Kentucky artisan carves an instrument out of wood

Visual Arts

Arts in Kentucky

Every work of art is a story, and Kentucky has many to tell. Our rich heritage of craftmaking goes all the way back to the pioneer days of the Commonwealth, when settlers living on the frontier learned to make the things they wanted or needed, and then passed those skills down through the generations. These traditions still thrive today, with a new class of Kentucky artisans crafting handmade music instruments, sculptures, intricate quilts, ceramics and pottery, textiles, paintings and many more objects of art.

Visit Berea, the “Folk Arts and Crafts Capital of Kentucky,” for charming shops selling some of the finest folk art Kentucky has to offer, and stop at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea to peruse the work of more than 800 Kentucky artists. Travel to western Kentucky to discover just why Paducah has been designated a UNESCO Creative City, from the historic floodwall murals along the riverfront to the eclectic studios of the Lower Town Arts District. And other arts destinations, including the Appalachian Artisan Center in Hindman and the annual Kentucky Crafted Market, provide even more opportunities for visitors to bring home magnificent art and a fascinating story or two. 

And if contemporary art is more your style, don’t miss KMAC and the 21C Museum Hotels in Louisville and Lexington, which showcase eclectic exhibitions from global artists. 

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