A new Frazier History Museum exhibit shows off everything “cool” about Kentucky
By Elizabeth Scinta
Photos provided by The Frazier History Museum
The Frazier History Museum is opening its newest exhibit this fall called “Cool Kentucky” featuring numerous artifacts that make Kentucky “cool.” Visitors can expect to see a signed Louisville Slugger Bat from Jennifer Lawrence, a Corvette and Tori Murden’s boat, the Pearl, the entire murder mystery series by internationally known author, Sue Grafton, among many others. Upon learning about this new exhibit, we had the honor of interviewing the Frazier History Museum President and CEO, Andy Treinen, to learn what this new cool exhibit is all about.
What inspired the “Cool Kentucky” Exhibit?
To be honest with you, it was probably when we took on the brand “Where the World Meets Kentucky,” and also the fact that we’re designated as the official starting point of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. What we discovered in our new role is that we are a concierge service for bourbon tourists to go to different distilleries all around the state. We decided with “Cool Kentucky” that we would take that same concept to all tourists, not just bourbon tourists. So, it’s a small representation of all the different museums in the state, industry of people, great stories and culture. If you’re interested in the Corvette, which you’ll see sitting in the lobby of the Frazier, then you go to Bowling Green and go to the [National] Corvette Museum. If the Muhammad Ali story inspires you, then you go to the Muhammad Ali Museum. If it’s bluegrass music, you go to Owensboro. So it’s really a position statement as a starting point for tourism in the state of Kentucky.
Why did the Frazier think there was a need for an exhibit like this?
As you can imagine, this is a massive story because there is an awful lot that is cool about the state of Kentucky. We had to start somewhere, and we’ve been working on this project for about a year and a half. We have a committee who brainstormed ideas on what we wanted for the exhibit, and once we came up with a list, they started contacting museums and attractions in the state to see what items we would be able to secure. That being said, it is a permanent exhibit, so it will evolve.
A lot is going into this exhibit, were most of the items donated?
It’s a combination of a lot of things. Many of them are loans. We have loans from virtually every other museum in the state, and museums tend to do that when they have a story that fits something that another museum has. You will loan some of your items out, but I don’t think ever at this scale. I don’t know if anybody has had virtually every museum represented in their [own museum]. The great thing about Kentucky is that it’s a tight-knit community, and it’s not so big that people won’t pick up the phone. If you make a phone call and make a good case, we have found that people have been really receptive. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to throwing a party to celebrate with all the people who donated to the museum. We initially thought that the party was going to be in October, but we knew a few months ago that that wasn’t going to happen, so now we’ll see. When the world allows it, we’re going to have one heck of a bash.
Why did the Frazier Museum decide to make this a permanent exhibit?
Our brand is “Where the World Meets Kentucky,” so if we’re going to commit to that, we have to tell stories about the people, the culture and the industry and the landscape of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. I couldn’t think of a better way to do it than with an exhibit like “Cool Kentucky” because it gives us an opportunity to partner with Louisville tourism and Kentucky state tourism on getting regional travelers to come here to the Frazier first because it doesn’t end there. It’s not only a starting point, it’s a launching pad to other attractions throughout the state of Kentucky.
What is your favorite part of the exhibit?
I get excited about different things every day. We’re at the point where we’re seeing things come in tangibly. Today we got a bunch of stuff from the Kentucky Colonels, which is the basketball team that won the ABA Championship in 1975 and disbanded in 1976. We got a stump from the Filson [Historical Society] today, a huge tree stump that has Daniel Boone’s name etched in it. When we brought the boat that Tori Murden rode across the Atlantic into the Great Hall, we had to engineer it and tip it onto its side and slide it through, and it only made it by about a half-inch on each side; that was a really cool day. So, it’s hard for me to commit to one specific thing because it changes every day when more tangible things come into the building.
If you had to describe the exhibit in five words or less, what would they be?
I can do it in one: cool. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that Kentucky ain’t cool.
Make sure to check out the full exhibit when it opens in fall 2020 to see all of the things that make Kentucky cool.
Frazier History Museum
829 W Main St.
Louisville, KY 40202