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The Kentucky Museum

The Kentucky Museum on the campus of Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green attracts thousands of visitors annually.

Sandy Staebell, registrar and collections curator for the museum, said the museum is particularly strong in quilts, political memorabilia, toys and games, and the decorative arts. “People can come to us just to study those types of collections,” she said.

Brent Bjorkman, museum director, said the museum is a resource for WKU students as well as the community. “We have over 30,000 artifacts that we use as part of working to create engaging and robust exhibits,” he said.

  • The Civil War exhibit, “A Star in Each Flag,” focuses on Kentucky being a border state and the birthplace of both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis. “There was a lot of brother against brother. … So that story is told in all its horror and all its greatness,” Bjorkman said.
  • The museum celebrates the life and work of Bowling Green native Duncan Hines. “We celebrate the fact that he was a creative force, a marketing force, and became a national figure, especially after World War II.” Hines was first known for publishing a travel guide showcasing good places to eat. He then branched off into cake mixes and prepared foods. “We have lots of visitors come in who didn’t know Duncan Hines was a real man,” Bjorkman said.
  • The Kentucky quilt collection is among the premier publicly-owned collections in the state, said Staebell. The museum also connects global themes with quilts, as it did in a special quilt display commemorating Nelson Mandela’s life, Bjorkman said.
  • The “Instruments of American Excellence” exhibit showcases objects that people have used to do extraordinary things, like a hammer former President Jimmy Carter used when volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. Bowling Green native Sam Bush, founder of newgrass music, donated a mandolin, Bjorkman said.

This segment is part of Kentucky Life episode #2109, which originally aired on February 27, 2016. Watch the full episode.