Kentucky Derby Museum
Louisville, Kentucky, contributes some splash to the field of Americana icons, and Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby since 1875, is one such icon. As an active thoroughbred racetrack, Churchill Downs hosts the Kentucky Derby annually. The Kentucky Derby Museum is also located on the grounds, and features interactive exhibits that include multiple facets of a racing thoroughbred’s life. Visiting children are welcome to dress as jockeys, or to take a photo op aboard a life-sized thoroughbred. Derby history is also on display here, with the museum showcasing both traditions and activities from the week of the Derby.
Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory
Another venerable American icon is the Louisville Slugger, the top bat used in major league baseball, and it’s crafted right here in town. Stop by the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory for a tour, and check out the displays boasting bats used by such baseball luminaries as Derek Jeter, Cal Ripken Jr., Johnny Bench, Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth. Interactive features include virtual batting practice with a baseball hurled at 90 miles per hour. At the end of the factory tour, guests receive a free souvenir bat.
Muhammad Ali Center
Sports aficionados will also appreciate a visit to the Muhammad Ali Center, which highlights the life of one of Louisville’s own. As might be expected, plenty of boxing memorabilia and fighting career highlights can be viewed here. But, perhaps unexpectedly, aspects of the champion’s core values are expressed in other exhibits, and include a multi-cultural bent.
Speed Art Museum
The Speed Art Museum is the premier art museum in Kentucky, holding bragging rights as the oldest and largest in the state. The Speed galleries showcase such bright lights as Rembrandt, Rubens, Monet, Courbet, Rodin, Brancusi, Chagall, Picasso, Cezanne, Matisse, Klee, Sargent, and Cassatt. But in addition to the highlights in its collection, the Speed Art Museum also offers the Art Sparks Interactive Family Gallery. This hands-on gallery features play spaces that echo works found in the collection, such as offering a chance to don an Engungun costume from Africa, or to play on board a Dutch vessel from the East India Trading Company. The Speed Art Museum also hosts such programs as Art After Dark, and the Speed Concert Series.
History lovers will relish the neighborhood of Old Louisville, replete with the largest collection of preserved Victorian homes in America, and capable of firing up visitors’ imaginations. Louisville boasts one of the biggest historic preservation districts nationwide.