The Kentucky Derby Museum celebrated its 30th anniversary in style Saturday with “It’s a Party” Day, rolling back prices to match when the Museum originally opened its doors in 1985. Hundreds of guests took advantage of the $2.50 admission, flocking to the exhibits and Finish Line Gift Shop while taking in many of the special events offered throughout the day.
“Stars of the Stands,” the Museum’s newest exhibit dedicated to the stars and celebrities who have attended the Kentucky Derby over the years, opened its doors for the first time. Showcasing the era from the inaugural Kentucky Derby to Secretariat’s record-breaking win in 1973, the exhibit takes visitors back in time and helps explain how celebrities helped transform the Kentucky Derby into what we think of it today. The exhibit will be updated next year to show a more current flavor of stars at the Derby, taking us forward from 1974 to current times.
Several guests joined the Museum to help celebrate this special anniversary, including Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris, Museum Bourbon Authority Fred Minnick, 2015 Kentucky Derby Official Artist Kimberly Santini and Courier-Journal Photography Editor Pat McDonogh.
Morris and Minnick helped show off the Museum’s special 30th anniversary commemorative Woodford Reserve bottle, with many guests lining up to purchase their own and have theirs autographed by the two bourbon experts. The bottle is a limited edition, and will be sold exclusively inside the Museum’s Gift Shop for $79.95 apiece.
Santini took guests behind-the-scenes to how she created the Derby’s official artwork, and explained the meaning of the race to her while she was growing up, calling Derby a bigger deal than even her own birthday. A slideshow projected inside the Museum’s Great Hall showed visuals of the piece as it came together step-by-step, and Santini explained her thought process and reasoning while she finished the artwork, which depicts colorful horses racing down the backstretch of Churchill Downs.
McDonogh was joined by Museum Curator of Exhibits Dominic Guarnaschelli and Curator of Collections Chris Goodlett to give the audience an inside view on how the “Stars of the Stands” exhibit went from thought to reality. Many of the photographs used for the exhibit hail from the archives at the Courier-Journal, some taken by McDonogh himself, and all three explained the hidden meaning and what themes they hoped to accomplish with each photograph picked for display.
Patrons also took part in a create-your-own hat activity, with those young and old designing their favorite Derby styles using simplistic art supplies and utensils. Museum President Lynn Ashton proudly showed off a proclamation signed by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer declaring April 11 “Kentucky Derby Museum Day,” and led a toast to the Museum’s wonderful 30 year history and the hopes for 30 more great years.
The Museum will continue celebrating its 30th anniversary throughout 2015, as we welcome the newest Derby champion into our collective thoughts immediately following the 141st running May 2. We invite you to join us as we continue to prove we may be turning 30, but just hitting our stride.