LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Twin Spires. The Garland of Roses. The Mint Julep. The fashion, and of course, the horses. Many know and love the Kentucky Derby, but how did it become the beloved and world-renowned race that it is today?
Kentucky Derby Museum answers that question in its newest permanent exhibit
, This is the Kentucky Derby!
, now open to the public.
The exhibit takes guests through five main facets of the Kentucky Derby: History, Culture, Spectacle, Economic Impact, and Tradition.
Through artifacts, pictures and touchscreens, this exhibit will answer many questions, including:
- Who started the Kentucky Derby? Why?
- How did the Kentucky Derby become a media sensation?
- How many millions of dollars flow through the city and state due to the Kentucky Derby?
- From the Mint Julep to the solid gold trophy, to the Twin Spires and the Garland of Roses, how did these traditions become icons of the Kentucky Derby?
Visual focal points of the exhibit include replica Twin Spires suspended from the ceiling. Designed off of the original blueprints of the famed Spires, they are complete with working lights that can change colors, just as the real Spires do. The coveted Garland of Roses hangs from the ceiling, bursting into petals that spray over the exhibit, to give guests a new way to see the prized blanket. The Museum’s curators worked closely with Kroger master floral designers to create the replica. A video monitor within the exhibit shows the floral designers handcrafting the authentic 40-pound masterpiece each year.
“Thousands of people from all over the globe visit the Kentucky Derby Museum each year, and many of them ask our tour guides, ‘What makes the Kentucky Derby the Kentucky Derby?’ It’s a complex question because there’s no single answer. This is the Kentucky Derby! gives visitors the space and time to explore how the Run for the Roses became the greatest horse race in the world,”
said Patrick Armstrong, President & CEO of the Kentucky Derby Museum. “I want to thank our Curatorial Team for bringing this exhibit to life through countless hours of design and research. In addition, we are excited to partner with Kroger, the designer of the Garland of Roses since 1987, to share
this exhibit with our visitors.”
A grand opening celebration open to the media and Museum guests Wednesday morning kicked off the exhibit opening with a Call to the Post, performed by Churchill Downs Bugler, Steve Buttleman, whose iconic red jacket and bugle are featured in the exhibit.
Kroger shared Mint Juleps and long-stem roses with Museum guests, and one lucky visitor received a $500 Kroger gift card. Additionally, artist Aimee Griffith was on-site autographing her Official Art of the Kentucky Derby posters.
The new 500-square-foot exhibit is located on the first floor of the Museum. After walking through the starting gates, it is the first exhibit visitors will experience. It is housed where the fashion exhibit stood, which will be reimagined and relocated within the Museum in the coming months.