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Kentucky Military History Museum to close during final phase of renovations

Goal is to restore the building to its original appearance

FRANKFORT, Ky. (July 5, 2012) — July 28 will be the last day the Kentucky Military History Museum at the State Arsenal will be open to the public this year before undergoing its final phase of renovations. It will reopen in March.

The Kentucky Military History Museum is operated jointly by the Kentucky Historical Society (KHS) and the Department of Military Affairs. The museum is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and all visitors must check in at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History, at 100 W. Broadway in downtown Frankfort.

The Kentucky Historical Society’s “Kentucky Military Treasures” exhibition is currently on display, including artifacts and stories of Kentuckians who fought in battles spanning nearly 200 years of conflicts — from the War of 1812 to more recent engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Kentucky Military History Museum reopened to great fanfare on Veterans Day 2011 after interior phases of renovation were completed. Since November 2007, renovations have included upgrades to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning; masonry repair; construction of a new staircase, installation of a fire suppression system and restoration of the wood floors.

During this final phase of both interior and exterior renovations, the Old War Records (pre-1912), managed by the Military Records and Research Branch of the Department of Military Affairs, will return to the State Arsenal; a new main entrance will be created; accessibility of the building, including parking lot, stairs and sidewalks, will be improved; visibility and safety improvements will be achieved by modifying the current retaining walls; and a new landscaping plan will be implemented. Although KHS had hoped to keep the building open during these final renovations, safety concerns make this impossible.

By the time the restoration is complete, the project will have cost more than $2 million. Funding has been provided by the Kentucky Department of Military Affairs, the Kentucky Historical Society Foundation and the Kentucky Veterans Program Trust Fund. The goal of this multiphase project is to restore the building — as closely as possible — to its original appearance.

Constructed in 1850, the State Arsenal is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Before becoming the Kentucky Military History Museum in 1974, the building had been used as a storage facility and as a warehouse for the Kentucky State Guard’s military equipment and munitions. During the Civil War, it housed a cartridge factory that employed many women and was a point of defense for the capital city. In 1933, a fire destroyed the roof and damaged the second floor.

Work on the historic building has been guided by the firm John Milner Associates Inc. under the direction of lead architect Christopher Quirk.