LOUISVILLE, Ky. – With the sounds of bugler’s call to the post, the Kentucky Derby Museum’s brand-new exhibit and event space is officially off and running.
After an aggressive construction timeline that began in earnest following Kentucky Derby 144, the museum added 11,000 s.f. of new space and renovated an existing 5,000 s.f. It was the largest expansion of the museum’s footprint since it opened in 1985 and one of the largest renovations since a major refurbishing project following damaging flooding in 2009.
The highlight of the expansion is the new exhibit space, which envelops guests into the stories of the famed careers of Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, with exhibit entitled D. Wayne Lukas: The Modern Trainer and Hall of Fame jockey Bill Shoemaker, with the exhibit Bill Shoemaker: Larger Than Life.
“This marks a historic day for the Kentucky Derby Museum. As our number of world-wide visitors continues to grow each year, we are honored to elevate the guest experience with our new exhibits and unique event space,” said Patrick Armstrong, Kentucky Derby president and CEO. “D. Wayne Lukas and Bill Shoemaker are icons of the Thoroughbred racing industry and have had such profound influence on the sport. We are excited to share their stories and keep their legacies thriving for years to come.”
D. Wayne Lukas and the daughter of Bill Shoemaker, Amanda Shoemaker Teal were both on hand to share in the opening of the new exhibits.
“The Kentucky Derby Museum has always been a must-visit destination for those that want to be immersed in the Derby experience and its history,” said Kentucky Department of Tourism Commissioner Kristen Branscum. “This expansion is emblematic of the museum’s dedication to showcase the entire horse racing industry with this new, first-class experience in an unforgettable space.”
“Expanding the Kentucky Derby Museum to tell more stories of racing legends like D. Wayne Lukas and Bill Shoemaker gives visitors one more reason to come to Louisville and adds dynamic new features to what was already one of our city’s great cultural attractions,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said.
“The Kentucky Derby Museum is one of the city’s iconic attractions for leisure and convention travelers looking for an authentic Louisville experience,” says Karen Williams, president and CEO of Louisville Tourism. “Now visitors will have even more unique opportunities to experience the thrills and traditions of the legendary Kentucky Derby year round.”
The new exhibit space is part of the general admission experience at the Kentucky Derby Museum.
The museum’s new wing also features two event spaces that can be set for various events, including weddings, dinners, parties, conventions, or any special event to nearly 2,000 guests. The brand new indoor event space offers 3,600 s.f. that overlooks historic Churchill Downs. The renovated and covered Oaks Garden Terrace boasts 7,300 square feet and can be utilized year-round with an indoor/outdoor atmosphere.
To date, the museum has raised $1.63 million in gifts from a variety of sources, including the board of directors, museum staff, individuals, corporate gifts, grants and luminaries of the Thoroughbred racing industry. Debuting as part of the museum’s new wing will be a permanent display recognizing these generous donors at the entrance to the exhibit spaces.
The Supporting Silks Wall visually acknowledges each expansion donor, with contributors of $5,000 or more receiving a custom-designed jockey silk. The Kentucky Derby Museum will continue to raise funds for the expansion until the fundraising campaign goal of $2.5 million is met.