Kentucky Derby Museum sets all-time attendance record in fiscal year 2023
New record of a quarter million guests exceeds pre-pandemic attendance levels
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (October 12, 2023) – Kentucky Derby Museum set an all-time attendance record with a quarter of a million guests in fiscal year 2023, which ran October 1, 2022 through September 30, 2023.
The record attendance makes the Museum, where every day is Derby day, the second most visited museum in Louisville behind only Louisville Slugger Museum, according to Louisville Business First’s current “Louisville area Tourist Attractions List.”
Last year's total of 251,514 guests surpassed the Museum's 2022 attendance by 23.3% and exceeded the pre-pandemic record in 2019 by 3.6%. Several Museum program areas contribute to the Museum's growing attendance: Visitor Services, Events, Derby Museum Store, Education, Group Sales, and Derby Museum Café & Bourbon Bar.
"Thank you to all our guests for making this past year truly remarkable at Kentucky Derby Museum," said Patrick Armstrong, Kentucky Derby Museum President and CEO. "Everyone at the Museum is passionate about what they do, and this new attendance record is a result of their hard work and massive team effort. Our guests resonated with the new Secretariat exhibit and all the unique events, attracting a record number of out-of-town visitors and locals alike. We can't wait to share more Derby magic with everyone as we approach the 150th Run for the Roses next year."
The Museum, like most attractions in the Commonwealth, faced an uphill battle in 2020 when the pandemic brought tourism to a screeching halt. Since then, all growth for the Museum has been compared to 2019 as the record-setting year with 242,841 guests. The Museum is proud to now have the 2023 attendance as a new benchmark for future growth.
"The Museum's strategic plan was pivotal in building momentum that catapulted us into a new attendance record," said Katie Fussenegger, Kentucky Derby Museum Executive Vice President. "This team has faced several challenges in the last three years, and I'm grateful for their dedication and creativity to help the Museum overcome every obstacle. We made it our mission to heighten the guest experience in the Museum, and I believe Derby 150 will bring that to a whole new level."
The growth in the Museum's attendance is another indication that tourism in Louisville has rebounded extremely well and has made steady progress recovering from the pandemic.
“Louisville’s local tourism industry has experienced record-breaking numbers in 2023," said Cleo Battle, Louisville Tourism President and CEO, "from the Muhammad Ali International Airport’s passenger volume to the largest rock festival attendance in the country, to now, the Kentucky Derby Museum’s highest recorded visitation, welcoming over a quarter of a million guests this year. We look forward to continuing this momentum in 2024 as we lead up to the historic running of the 150th Kentucky Derby.”
The Museum is looking ahead to two significant years with the 150th Kentucky Derby in 2024 and the Museum's 40th anniversary in 2025. Kentucky Derby Museum will be launching a state-wide celebration on December 6, 2023, which will mark 150 days to Derby 150. This will be a way for all Kentuckians to share in the joy, excitement, and anticipation ahead of Derby. More information regarding the December 6th celebrations and how people can participate will be released soon.
Museum executive leadership would like to thank the entire Museum Team, along with the Museum's Board of Directors, members, volunteers, sponsors, and partners for their continued support in achieving this new visitation record.