(Louisville, KY, May 15, 2018) -- The Frazier History Museum in the Bourbon District of downtown Louisville is launching an exciting new partnership with the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History in Bardstown, Kentucky — the Bourbon Capital of the World!
On May 19 Spirits of the Bluegrass: Prohibition and Kentucky, one of the most popular exhibitions in the Frazier’s 14-year history, will re-open at the Getz Museum in Bardstown, marking the first time ever that a Frazier original has hit the road as a traveling exhibition. The acquisition has inspired the Getz to renovate its own permanent collection, adopting a rotating cast of displays to help freshen up the experience for visitors.
“Spirits of the Bluegrass: Prohibition and Kentucky was so popular with the public, we knew this exhibit had to live on beyond its time here at the Frazier,” said Frazier History Museum President Penny Peavler. “With Bardstown’s rich Bourbon past and growing Kentucky Bourbon Trail® tour experiences, the Oscar Getz Museum is the perfect partner with whom to share this important chapter in Kentucky history.”
Featuring two full bars and a lighted stage, the Frazier’s Prohibition and Kentucky exhibit, which ran from fall 2016 to winter 2018, explored the unintended consequences of Prohibition by tracing the rise of the temperance movement, bootleggers, speakeasies and flappers during the 1920s and ‘30s. But given the size of the venue, the new exhibit will be a slightly scaled down and — no pun intended! — distilled version of the original.
A lineup of artifacts organized chronologically will tell the story of the temperance movement, followed by Prohibition in 1920 and its repeal in 1933. A new point of focus will be Prohibition’s impact on the city of Bardstown, where a black market for moonshine replaced the shuttered liquor distilleries. “A lot of people made a lot of money running whiskey,” said Dixie Hibbs, a local historian who has been helping with the project.
Prohibition and Kentucky will open to the public on Saturday, May 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and remain open at the Getz Museum for a period of two or three years. A small private opening for invited guests will be held from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 17, with performances by teaching artists from the Frazier held throughout the evening.
On June 14, National Bourbon Day, the Getz will host a ceremonial ribbon-cutting to officially kick off the exhibit and celebrate the holiday. As a nod to the culture of the Prohibition era, the Getz will have a 1920s jazz band play while teetotalers and partiers voice their preferences.
“We are very excited for the public to see our newly renovated museum,” said executive director Linda McCloskey. “We know it will be a big attraction for Bardstown tourists.”
The Oscar Getz Museum opened in 1984 when the Getz family, having sold the Tom Moore Distillery in Bardstown, saved its vast collection of artifacts, documents and whiskey industry memorabilia to put on public display. Among the 5,000 items in the permanent collection are vintage ads, moonshine stills, antique jugs, liquor decanters, medicinal prescriptions and more.
The museum is located in Spalding Hall, an antebellum brick building that served as a hospital during the Civil War. Staff has had to clear space around the entrance and renovate the hallways and foyer in preparation for the new exhibit, and a new effort to catalogue, label and digitize the permanent collection is currently underway.
At the insistence of the Getz family, admission to the museum remains free of charge.
The Frazier’s new partnership with the Getz reflects its burgeoning commitment to Bourbon tourism. On August 25 the Frazier Museum will be launching two Bourbon-themed projects of its own: the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® Welcome Center and Spirit of Kentucky exhibition.
The KBT® Welcome Center, a first-floor facility offering free admission, will mark the Official Starting Point of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® tours, a much-beloved tourist attraction that was launched by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA) in 1999.
Spirit of Kentucky will be accessible with the cost of admission to the Frazier. A visual guide to the history, craft and culture of the Bourbon industry, this permanent exhibition will explore the people, places and events that have made Bourbon the signature product of Kentucky.
The Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History is open year-round, six or seven days a week (closed on Mondays during the winter) with attendance thriving during the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in September. Whisky Magazine has named the Getz as a “Whiskey Visitor Attraction of the Year.” Guided tours are available upon request.