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 Louisville.

10 Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft
A unique collection of arts and crafts handmade exclusively by Kentucky artists. The 12 annual exhibitions attract more than 85,000 visitors. More than 2,000 students and teachers visit on field trips, while more than 50,000 students and teachers utilize the museum's educational program in the classroom. The gallery shop features more than 200 artists with work ranging from furniture to folk art. The shop ships to all corners of the world. (502-589-0102, 800-446-0102)

9 Colonel Sanders Museum
Considered a "mini-museum," this display pays tribute to the man behind the lip-smackin', finger-lickin' goodness of chicken that's been treated to a "secret recipe" of eleven herbs and spices. Visitors can pose with a wax sculpture of KFC founder Harland Sanders, trace a timeline of his life, check out suits he wore and memorabilia that belonged to him, and even view company commercials and play a bit of trivia. Also on-hand is an original pressure cooker, a major player in the success story that is today's KFC. (502-379-6109, 888-568-4784)

8 Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind
This museum presents a rare collection of artifacts related to both the educational history of the blind and to the history of American Printing House. The inspirational facility offers many hands-on options for the sighted and for hearing-, mobility-, and visually-impaired visitors. In addition, certain exhibits simulate what it's like to be blind as a way to increase visitor understanding of how blind people achieve self-sufficiency. The museum provides an outstanding, wide-ranging collection of research materials too, and guided tours are available. Handicapped accessible. (502-895-2405, 800-223-1839)

7 Thomas Merton Center
Thomas Merton was a prolific 20th-century author and Trappist monk of the Cistercian Abbey of Gethsemane in nearby Bardstown. He bequeathed to Bellarmine University his manuscripts, letters, journals, drawings, and photographs, which are now part of a 40,000-item collection that includes published works by and about Merton, along with several hundred volumes from Merton's own library. The center regularly sponsors courses, lectures, retreats, seminars, and exhibits and also provides resources for programs that further Merton's work. In addition, it serves as the central office for the International Thomas Merton Society and publishes related materials. (502-452-8187, 502-452-8177)

6 Kentucky Derby Museum
Climb onto a model horse and pretend to be a jockey in the starting gate; watch lifesized videos of what it's like to be in front of the riders. (502-637-1111)

5 Louisville Slugger Museum
A fascinating glimpse at an American classic. The company's 114-year history parallels the history of America's national pastime, and this museum provides an outstanding commentary on the development of the game of baseball. Behind the scenes tour takes you through the entire manufacturing process. Impressive collection of bats from famous sluggers whose careers show why Louisville Slugger is the Official Bat of Major League Baseball. (502-588-7228)

4 Filson Museum
Founded in 1884 for the purpose of collecting, preserving, and publishing historical material — particularly that pertaining to Kentucky's rich heritage — this facility boasts nationally recognized, carefully preserved collections. They include artwork, artifacts, books, diaries, family histories, manuscripts, photographs, portraits, and public records. Visitors can also find vast programming and research opportunities available. (502-635-5083)

3 Speed Art Museum
Kentucky's largest art museum was instituted in 1927 and occupies, with later additions, a limestone, Greek Revival structure. The extensive permanent collection spans 6000 years and boasts more than 12,000 items. Among its strongest holdings are contemporary American art and sculpture, northern European art from the 17th and 18th centuries, and tapestries of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Additional highlights include Kentucky art from the 1800s, a 17th-century English room, and a variety of decorative arts. Special exhibits are booked regularly, and the facility includes a cafe, gift shop, and an interactive learning center that the kids will enjoy. (502-634-2700)

2 Kentucky Science Center
The Louisville Science Center strives to bring out the scientist in you via exhibits, programs and IMAX® films that are both educational and entertaining. This phenomenal hands-on facility has something for everyone! (502-561-6100, 800-591-2203)

1 Jim Beam American Outpost and Distillery Museum
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this museum chronicles the history of the company's origins from the beginning to the present. The business began in 1795 and celebrated its 200th anniversary in 1995. A Family History Room displays rare family photos and heirloom memorabilia; the restored tasting parlor is included in the tour. Visitors to the gift shop can sample their world-famous bourbon candy. (502-543-9877)

Maps and Directions

1
Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft 10Best List Arrow
Type: Art Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: DOWNTOWN
2
Colonel Sanders Museum 10Best List Arrow
Type: Museums
Neighborhood: DOWNTOWN
3
Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind 10Best List Arrow
Type: History Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: BUTCHERTOWN
4
Thomas Merton Center 10Best List Arrow
Type: History Museums, Libraries / Archives, Museums
Neighborhood: HIGHLANDS
5
Kentucky Derby Museum 10Best List Arrow
Type: History Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: DOWNTOWN
6
Louisville Slugger Museum 10Best List Arrow
Type: History Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: DOWNTOWN
7
Filson Museum 10Best List Arrow
Type: Art Museums, History Museums, Libraries / Archives, Museums
Neighborhood: DOWNTOWN
8
Speed Art Museum 10Best List Arrow
Type: Art Museums, Children's Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: DOWNTOWN
9
Kentucky Science Center 10Best List Arrow
Type: Family Friendly, IMAX Theaters, Museums, Science Museums
Neighborhood: Downtown
10
Jim Beam American Outpost and Distillery Museum 10Best List Arrow
Type: Breweries and Distilleries, History Museums, Museums, Tours and Excursions
Neighborhood: Clermont