Museums

Visiting a museum is always a unique experience, as each one has its own distinct characteristics, style, and of course, content. Museum subjects vary greatly from city to city, and can range from firefighter's museums to fine art, to sports. If you need help making a selection, our 10Best list highlights the top spots to visit in Lexington.

10 University of Kentucky Art Museum
This university-affiliated museum provides "town and gown" communities with an opportunity to view a range of masterworks by well- and lesser-known artists from a variety of countries and times. The permanent collection includes pieces by Dürer, Lichtenstein, Chuck Close, and Rembrandt in such genres as Abstract Expressionism and American Impressionism. Textiles and regional art also find a place in the facility, which brings in traveling exhibitions and offers lectures as well. While the permanent collection is free, temporary exhibits charge varying fees. (859-257-5716)

9 Carriage Museum of America
Founded in the late '70's, the Carriage Museum of America is the perfect place to learn about the history and use of animal-drawn carriages. The museum serves as a full-time library with collections of books and blueprints on carriages, wagons, stables, breeding and more. (859-259-2933)

8 Lexington History Museum
For a detailed look at the history and foundation of present-day Lexington, visit the Lexington History Museum on West Main in downtown. Exhibits showcase the most defining moments of the second largest city in the Blue Grass state, including horse racing at Keeneland, the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement. (859-254-0530)

7 The Explorium of Lexington
Marked by a bright yellow awning and a boldly painted exterior, this children's museum is a fantastic place for young ones to explore. Its array of interactive exhibits teaches while it entertains, and it offers kids a better understanding of the world around them. Among the entities visitors can examine are light, space travel, dinosaurs, the body, nature, medicine, physical science, and dwellings from around the world. The museum also hosts birthday parties for little folks. (859-258-3253)

6 International Museum of the Horse
Documenting the evolution of the horse, its longstanding relationship to humans, and its status in the modern world, this museum explores the equine in its many roles and incarnations. Art exhibits, photography shows, biological and historical explorations, riding paraphernalia, and an examination of multiple breeds constitute the bulk of the museum's displays, although you'll also find special traveling exhibits that provide further elucidation of the horse. A research library is available for visitors who crave additional information. NB: Admission to the museum is included when you purchase a pass to Kentucky Horse Park. (859-259-4232, 859-254-3343)

5 Headley — Whitney Museum
On what was once the family estate, George W. Headley III, an accomplished jewelry designer, instituted (with his wife, Barbara Whitney) this museum dedicated to decorative arts. Encompassing such well-designed but functional objects as ceramics, textiles, and furniture, decorative arts are intended to be utilitarian but have exceptional beauty. Culled from collections around the world, exhibitions feature jewelry, quilts, pottery, teapots, shoes, silverware, and even picture frames. An amazing, well-respected museum that offers insight into history and culture through objects and use. (859-255-6653)

4 American Saddlebred Museum
This museum elucidates and pays tribute to Kentucky's only native equine breed. The American saddlebred, a prominent show horse, is presented via artwork, sculpture, artifacts, interactive exhibits, and other methods. Exhibits change regularly and often draw on private collections for substance. Video and theater displays couple word and image for visitors, granting them an overview of this famous, respected breed. A gift shop is available for take-home remembrances. N.B. Museum admission is included in admission for Kentucky Horse Park. (859-259-2746, 800-829-4438)

3 Bluegrass Railroad Museum
Not more than fifteen miles from Lexington, this facility offers fascinating glimpses of the rail era, along with displays of equipment and memorabilia. It also invites visitors to take a ride through the countryside on a vintage train. Pastoral scenery, complete with local flora and grazing livestock, greets passengers, who take the same route as that once followed by the Louisville Southern Railroad. Special event and holiday rides are also available. The museum works diligently to preserve railroad memorabilia and its attendant lore. (859-873-2476)

2 Nostalgia Station Toy Train Museum
If you're enamored of life in the good old days, this museum — just ten miles west of town in Versailles — will allow you to recapture a piece of the past, if just for a while. It offers a wealth of railroad-related items, including model trains, vintage toys, collectibles, and other goods from previous decades. The building itself was a train depot in its early days, and its architecture and decor add a special ambience to the museum. (859-873-2497)

1 Aviation Museum of Kentucky
If you're the type who's mesmerized by thoughts of flight and taking to the clouds, you'll appreciate this local museum. Within it lie a number of restored aircraft, along with flying instruments and artifacts. Included in the collection are a Heath Center Wing, an A-4 Skyhawk, and a model of the state's first airplane, which took flight initially in 1908. Kids are also delighted by the flight simulator, which takes them on a gentle, exciting (and grounded) ride and lets them see how planes function and move. (859-231-1219)


From Our Partners

Maps and Directions

3
Lexington History Museum 10Best List Arrow
Type: History Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: DOWNTOWN
4
The Explorium of Lexington 10Best List Arrow
Type: Children's Museums, Family Friendly, Museums, Science Museums
Neighborhood: DOWNTOWN
7
American Saddlebred Museum 10Best List Arrow
Type: History Museums, Museums
8
Bluegrass Railroad Museum 10Best List Arrow
Type: History Museums, Museums, Tours and Excursions
Neighborhood: VERSAILLES
9
Nostalgia Station Toy Train Museum 10Best List Arrow
Type: History Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: VERSAILLES
10
Aviation Museum of Kentucky 10Best List Arrow
Type: History Museums, Museums, Science Museums
Neighborhood: AIRPORT - LEX