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Segment Producers: Charlee Heaton, Ernie Lee Martin, Donna Ross, Gale Worth
A tour of the Kentucky History Center
On April 10, 1999, the Kentucky Historical Society officially opened the doors to its new home—the Kentucky History Center, a 167,000-square-foot museum, research library, and educational center in the heart of downtown Frankfort. Not long after that, our own Byron Crawford got a private tour, cameras in tow.
The tour starts pretty dramatically: A grand spiral staircase, built of Kentucky limestone, descends to a terrazzo map of the state, with each county outlined in brass. It’s at the heart of the History Center’s 20,000-square-foot permanent exhibit, A Kentucky Journey. This walking tour of Kentucky’s past takes visitors from prehistory to the present, with display cases of artifacts as well as room-sized displays designed to give a taste of what life was like for ordinary Kentuckians of various eras. While admiring the displays, Byron also gets to talk to some of the people who created them, like period costumer Deb Rogers.
Kentucky Life’s tour also includes a visit to the research and lending library and a close-up of the Celebration Quilt. Designed to represent the “coming together” of Kentuckians’ common history, the quilt includes pieces sewn in each of the state’s 120 counties.
In 2005, the building was rededicated as the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History, in honor of the late historian. Kentucky Life paid another visit to get an update on its exhibits and programs not long after that; you’ll find that tour in Program 1206.
The center is located at Broadway and High in Frankfort, and admission is free.
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