Louisville, Ky. – As the Frazier History Museum moves forward with its Future Fund Phase II renovation project, Interim Director Paula Hale has announced the museum’s plans to develop an expanded Bourbon history exhibit and experience at its location on West Main Street.
The $1.4 million Future Fund Phase II includes increasing classroom space, creating a more visible entrance and an expanded museum store. This project allows the museum to serve a projected 41,500 students, teachers and families annually, increasing the current number served by 13,000 and attracting approximately 10,000 new visitors to the museum annually. Phase I of the Future Fund project, included increasing exhibit space by nearly 5,000 square feet and creating a first floor theatre for historic interpretations and cultural programming.
Working with the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA), the Frazier will explore and develop the concept of a new Bourbon-oriented visitor experience that will be located at the Frazier and will serve as an official starting point to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® adventure and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour®, both of which are owned and trademarked by the KDA. Initial plans call for Bourbon-related exhibits and visitor experiences that impart the history and cultural development of one of Kentucky’s signature industries. Interactive learning programs and events will be developed to introduce and support the growing number of Bourbon distilleries throughout the Commonwealth.
Consideration of an expanded Bourbon presence at the museum began nearly a year ago when the Frazier and the KDA partnered on a Bourbon history exhibit that included the actual Congressional resolution declaring Bourbon to be “America’s native spirit.” The exhibit marked the first time the document left the National Archives since it was signed in 1964. The exhibit, which is still on display, also includes artifacts from the KDA and Kentucky Bourbon Trail® distilleries.
“Telling the rich history of Bourbon in support of this growing industry is truly a concept whose time has come,” said Eric Gregory, President of the KDA. “Not only is Bourbon an important part of Kentucky’s heritage but the heritage of our country. The Frazier allows us to tell this story right in the heart of Louisville’s burgeoning downtown Bourbon boom, including the revitalization of Whisky Row, the success of The Evan Williams Experience and the continuing addition of craft distilleries. The Frazier is a natural launch point and we look forward to capitalizing on the museum’s experience and resources to make this dream a reality.”
“We are excited about the role the Frazier will play in the growing Bourbon boom,” said Greg Fischer, Mayor of Louisville. “Kentucky is the birthplace of Bourbon, producing 95 percent of the world’s supply, generating $3 billion in gross state product, providing 15,400 jobs with an annual payroll of $707 million and creating $165 million in local and state tax revenue every year. As Louisville joins the rest of the state in building on this exciting “Bourbon boom”, Kentucky will become a global Bourbon destination that cannot be duplicated anywhere in the world.”
The Frazier History Museum will provide space and management services for the Bourbon exhibit as an extension of its mission to showcase national and international issues and events from local and regional perspectives. It is expected that the exhibit and its related services will require the Frazier to expand to the three buildings adjacent to the museum on West Main Street. The buildings were a gift to the museum from Laura Frazier and Catherine Frazier Joy, when their father, Frazier Museum founder Owsley Frazier, passed away two and a half years ago.
Through artifacts and objects, the Frazier History Museum tells the stories of a broad spectrum of world, national and regional history. Its renowned historic interpretations of colorful characters and specialized interactive programs have become hallmarks of the institution. To further develop and integrate the expanded Bourbon presence with the Frazier’s current permanent collections, temporary exhibits, and learning programs, the Frazier has hired Imagination, a world-renowned international creative agency.
Imagination created the Guinness Storehouse experience in Dublin, an off-site installation for the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and has worked with both Christie’s auction house and the Natural History Museum in London on a range of projects, as well as creating Innovation Centers for corporate clients, including GE and 3M. Based on the strategy and design plan that Imagination is developing, a capital campaign will be initiated to fund the Bourbon experience at the Frazier Museum.
“The Frazier Board of Directors sees this as an exceptional opportunity to support our mission and extend our programming as we continue to tell the wonderful stories of our region and the world,” said Hale. “Bourbon occupies a significant place in our national and community culture and we look forward to working with the KDA to share its many aspects with our residents and visitors alike.”
Contributions from regional foundations and corporations provided the necessary funds for the Future Fund Project and include the James Graham Brown Foundation, The Marshall Charitable Foundation, Brown-Forman Corporation, The Ogle Foundation, Gheens Foundation, and an anonymous foundation. Additional gifts were received from the Irvin F. and Alice S. Etscorn Charitable Foundation, Louisville Metro Council Neighborhood Development Fund, the Cralle Foundation, and the Barth Foundation.
As part of its ongoing 10th Anniversary Exhibition Schedule, the Frazier recently opened the Lewis & Clark Experience. The family-friendly exhibit is designed to take visitors of all ages on an immersive and educational adventure that faces some of the many challenges encountered by the Corps of Discovery, which began on the Ohio River in 1803. The Lewis & Clark Experience is scheduled through March 2016.