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 square feet of new space and renovated an existing 5,000 square feet. 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,” Patrick Armstrong, Kentucky Derby President and CEO said. “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 horseracing 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 & 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 square feet 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.
D. Wayne Lukas: The Modern Trainer
D. Wayne Lukas: The Modern Trainer chronicles the life and career of one of the most significant trainers of the current era. The exhibit illustrates how this Wisconsin native combined a love of horses, a strong work ethic and an innovative mind to change and enhance modern Thoroughbred training. Lukas has won 14 Triple Crown races, 20 Breeders' Cup races and numerous Eclipse Awards recognizing his record 26 champion Thoroughbreds. He was inducted into Thoroughbred racing's Hall of Fame in 1999 and is still an active trainer. The exhibit looks at the training innovations that spurred this success, and the impact his methods have had on other trainers and the industry as a whole. The exhibit largely relies on the personal collection of D. Wayne Lukas to tell this story, a collection he permanently entrusted to the museum's care in 2017.
- Artifacts, images and video documenting Lukas' four Kentucky Derby winners: Winning Colors (1988), Thunder Gulch (1995), Grindstone (1996) and Charismatic (1999).
- Trophies from the 1960s to the present day documenting Lukas' Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred careers.
- Fine art representing some of Lukas' greatest horses, including Winning Colors, Lady's Secret and Landaluce.
- Interactive displays featuring former assistant trainers' thoughts on Lukas' mentoring and impact and video footage of many of Lukas' greatest horses.
Bill Shoemaker: Larger than Life
Bill Shoemaker: Larger than Life chronicles the life and times of Bill Shoemaker, often cited as Thoroughbred racing's last celebrity jockey. Growing up a natural athlete that excelled at boxing and wrestling, Shoemaker found his calling when he began working with Thoroughbreds in high school. Beginning his professional riding career while still a teenager, Shoemaker won the Kentucky Derby four times over a span of four decades. In 1970, he won his 6,033rd race to become the all-time winningest rider in history, a record since broken by two other jockeys. Based in California, Shoemaker was part of the state's celebrity culture, appearing frequently on national television, acting as a spokesperson for major companies and forever being immortalized in a series featuring famous athletes by noted pop artist Andy Warhol.
The exhibit features the extensive collection of Bill Shoemaker, presented to the Kentucky Derby Museum by his daughter, Amanda, in 2008. The artifacts and images in the exhibit document Shoemaker's youth, his extensive career as a jockey and his post-riding life as a Thoroughbred trainer and advocate for the industry.
- Artifacts documenting Shoemaker's racing career, including his four Kentucky Derby wins: Swaps (1955), Tomy Lee (1959), Lucky Debonair (1965) and Ferdinand (1986).
- A special 180 degree interactive that allows visitors to view riding a Thoroughbred from the perspective of a rider.
- Scrapbooks from the Shoemaker collection that document his riding career, his interactions with fans and life with his family.
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