Kentucky Derby Museum marks most successful year ever in its 31 year history

Kentucky Derby Museum marks most successful year ever in its 31 year history

Kentucky Derby Museum marks most successful year ever in its 31 year history
Museum saw significant increases in attendance and revenue

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Kentucky Derby Museum is wrapping up its most successful year ever in its 31 year history.  The Museum reported significant increases in both attendance and revenue numbers as it closed out the 2016 fiscal year. (The Museum’s fiscal year runs October-September)

The Museum welcomed more than 218,220 visitors through its doors during FY 2016, an increase of 12.6% over prior year.

Total revenue was up 22% compared to prior year. Admissions revenue was up 18.3%, special events and rentals increased 10.1% and retail saw a 3% increase from FY15. Sponsorships and donations were also up significantly, led by a $750,000 grant from the James Graham Brown Foundation to update the Museum’s signature exhibit, The Greatest Race. In addition, the Museum marked the 30th anniversary of its Gala, its largest yearly fundraiser, with the most successful event in the last five years.

“With an outstanding team leading the way, the Museum continues to grow and flourish. We’ve seen great success with new and expanded tours in partnership with Churchill Downs Racetrack, an increased, targeted marketing and advertising campaign, exciting special events and Museum upgrades. We believe this is just the start of what is possible here at the Museum,” Kentucky Derby Museum President Patrick Armstrong said. “We are proud to be the keepers of the legacy of the Kentucky Derby, while taking an innovative approach to the future of the Museum and a one-of-a-kind visitor experience. We look forward to reaching even greater heights.”

Guided by the vision of its Board of Directors, the Museum invested $2.9 million dollars to upgrade the 360° immersive media experience, The Greatest Race, which transports guests into the heart of Kentucky Derby Day. Updates to the movie included new footage shot in 4K, Ultra HD and a high quality sound system. It debuted in December 2015 to rave reviews from former Derby winners, industry VIPs and visitors alike and continues to wow as the centerpiece of the Museum experience.

Kentucky Derby Museum also found success with the addition of new special events, including the first-ever Fan Fest Day, held May 1, 2016. More than 1,400 guests attended and helped open the new AMERICAN PHAROAH exhibit, celebrating the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years. The Museum received a $100,000 commitment from the owners of American Pharoah, the Zayat Family, and Maker’s Mark which included the creation of a commemorative American Pharoah Maker’s Mark bottle.

The Museum celebrated a major milestone with its Education Outreach team in early 2016, completing the Quest for 120, a mission to bring lessons in math, science, economics and history to students in each of Kentucky’s 120 counties, using the Kentucky Derby and the Thoroughbred racing industry as a springboard. The Quest for 120 began in 2000 and took over 930 school visits to complete.    

Recent awards and accolades:

  • 2016 Southeastern Museums Conference (SEMC) Technology Gold Award for Media Production of The Greatest Race
  • 2016 International Sports Heritage Association (ISHA) Communication Award for The Greatest Race mixed media campaign
  • Business First 2016 Non-Profit Business of the Year Award finalist    

# # #

About Kentucky Derby Museum (
Kentucky Derby Museum, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in Louisville, Kentucky has a commitment to ENGAGE, EDUCATE and EXCITE everyone about the extraordinary experience that is the KENTUCKY DERBY.

Lindsay English
Communications Manager
(502) 814-3030
Cell (502) 777-6148