Frazier History Museum

Past Exhibitions

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100 Great Courier-Journal Photographs

January 27th - March 7th 2017

They are the images that have moved readers to action, to laughter, to celebration and to tears. In its 150 year history, Louisville’s Courier-Journal photographers have gone to great lengths to capture the beautiful, the tragic and the controversial moments of life in our region. These snap-shots took visitors through time-and-place and displayed in crystal clarity that a picture is, indeed, worth a-thousand words.

From President L.B.J. to M.L.K., from Presidents Kennedy, Nixon and Ford to the K.K.K., Kentucky has at times existed in the cross-hairs of political discourse with free-speech being tested every step of the way. Through the years the lenses of award-winning C-J photographers have sharpened their focus on some of the biggest stars of the 20th century: Babe Ruth, Elvis, Pope John Paul II, Muhammad Ali, James Brown, Bob Hope, Mother Teresa and Mikhail Baryshnikov were just a few of the titans showcased among the 100 images.


Personal Stories of Pearl Harbor

November 11, 2016 - February 21, 2017

A Morning That Changed the World: Personal Stories of Pearl Harbor commemorated the 75th anniversary of the attack on the United States, featuring the Rex Knight Collection of letters, photographs, and mementos from both servicemen and civilians who experienced the events that took place on December 7th, 1941. The immersive, thought-provoking exhibition delved into the fateful event and the aftermath that followed, showcasing American life during the involvement of World War II with stories told by the people who lived through this historical time. 

The exhibit also featured an exploration of the events that took place on September 11, 2001, the next attack on the United States, marked with the words of Mark Twain, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes."

The exhibit opening took place on Veteran's Day, November 11, 2016, with a ribbon cutting led by Louisville native and Pearl Harbor survivor Grand Marshal Charles Hocker and collector Rex Knight, with special recognition of Tuskegee Airman Frank Weaver.

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Kentucky By Design

August 4, 2016 - February 12, 2017

Kentucky by Design celebrated the 80th anniversary of the Federal Art Project’s Index of American Design, which was part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration/Federal Art Project during the Great Depression. Over 400 artists, including many Kentuckians, were provided work documenting the American material culture of the 1800s in watercolor renderings. Beyond providing employment to artists, the purpose of the Index was to determine if there was a uniquely American design in the objects produced by American artisans.

Kentucky by Design featured over 85 original and facsimile watercolor renderings, paired with the actual objects and artworks depicted. The exhibit examined the themes of Nation-building in the context of defining American art and craft without dependence on European traditions; the challenges of merging local cultural traditions into an expression of national identity; the overarching optimism of the New Deal in the face of the Great Depression; and the significance of the inclusion of items from Kentucky’s two Shaker communities whose designs impacted American and International Modernism.

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White Christmas : The Exhibition

November 17 - January 8, 2017

Back by popular demand, White Christmas: The Exhibition was on display during the 2016-2017 holiday season! Featuring costumes, posters, and memorabilia from the 1954 classic film starring Kentucky's own Rosemary Clooney, along with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen. On loan from the Rosemary Clooney House in Augusta, KY, the exhibit included authentic props from the film with several costumes — including the blue dresses Clooney and Ellen wore as they sang “Sisters” – Visitors were treated to the stories behind the objects and characters of White Christmas.

First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare

November 10-December 11, 2016 

The First Folio, published in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death, is the first collected edition of his plays, many of which were not published during his lifetime.  Two of Shakespeare’s fellow actors compiled 36 of his plays, hoping to preserve them for future generations. Without it, we would not have 18 of Shakespeare’s plays, including MacbethJulius CaesarTwelfth NightThe TempestAntony and CleopatraThe Comedy of Errors, and As You Like It. All 18 appear for the first time in print in the First Folio, and would otherwise have been lost.

Of the 750 original printed copies of the First Folio, only 235 are known to still exist, 82 of which are in the Folger Shakespeare Library collection. In 2016, the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, the Folger has mounted a national traveling exhibition, bringing this important volume to one venue in each state, for one month.

Julius Friedman: Fifty Year Retrospective

June 23, 2016 - October 9, 2016

The exhibit, Julius Friedman: Fifty Year Retrospective, is a celebration of life and will feature the iconic posters that have become a part of the international arts and culture community, including “Toe on Egg,” his famous Louisville Ballet poster of a dancer's shoe balanced on an egg, and his “Fresh Paint” poster, featuring three egg yolks in the primary colors. The multi-sensory exhibit, inspired by the movement and emotion of nature, will provide visitors a visual, audio and tactile experience that delves into the mind of Friedman. 

The cutting edge photographer says Julius Friedman: Fifty Year Retrospective will be much more than art on a wall. The multi-media exhibit promises to uncover some of Friedman’s inspirations in creating the images that are now recognized around the world. Fifty Year Retrospective will also break new ground with a contemporary show featuring photographs of life and the natural world never seen before, from the perspective of one of the arts most discerning eyes. Visitors to Fifty Year Retrospective will also see Friedman challenge conventional backdrops like paper and canvas as he presents new photography on aluminum and cloth.

Thomas Merton: A Familiar Stranger

January 31, 2016 - May 29, 2016

Visitors will learn more about Merton’s 27 years as a Trappist Monk at Our Lady of Gethsemani Abbey, near Bardstown, Kentucky, and his epiphany at 4th and Walnut streets in Louisville. It was March 18th of 1958 when Merton redefined himself with a greater focus on social justice:

“I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers….There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”  - Thomas Merton.

The exhibit will display photographs taken by Merton himself, photographs of the spiritual leader taken by Kentucky photographer Ralph Eugene Meatyard, and photographs taken by Courier-Journal photographers during the civil rights movement in Louisville. Also on display will be artifacts and personal clothing, including a jean jacket, robes and monastic wear. Visitors will read correspondence between Merton and Coretta Scott King and hear voice recordings of Merton speaking about Martin Luther King, Jr’s death.


Hometown History Series

The Power of Persuasion: 100 Years of Doe-Anderson

August 1, 2015 - February 14, 2016

The Frazier History Museum kicks off its new Hometown History Series with a retrospective on the unprecedented 100-year span of one of Louisville’s most prestigious companies, Doe-Anderson. The Power of Persuasion: 100 Years of Doe-Anderson traces the creative company’s history of serving as successful strategists and communicators for a long list of who’s who in local, regional and national clients. Click here to learn more...

Holidays Around the World                                                                                       

Friday, November 27th, 2015 through January, 3rd 2016

Holidays Around the World is a visually-stunning, multi-cultural tree display that celebrates holiday traditions found throughout Louisville’s diverse communities. It ranges from trees decorated as they would be in countries that observe Christmas, to cultural displays showcasing other holidays observed around the globe throughout the year.

Presented by VisionWorks, LLC

Love, Shirley Temple

July 3 - 8, 2015

Celebrating America’s Little Darling, this once-in-a-lifetime exhibition will feature movie costumes, dolls, and childhood memorabilia from the personal archives of the iconic actress Shirley Temple. Comprised of over 200 pieces, the exhibit will span her rise to stardom in 1930, the Depression years, and the end of her childhood in 1941. This unique exhibit is a personal look into the life and work of the world’s most famous child actress. All of this is included in the cost of general admission!

Theriault’s, the world’s auction leader for important childhood objects and sponsor of the show, has selected the Frazier to be the only museum in the Midwest to show this special exhibit on its national tour!


British Royal Armouries USA, 3rd Floor      

Opening Day 2004-January 2015                                                                              

This collection tells the story of over 1,000 years of British and European history, from pre-Roman Britain through the Middle Ages to the end of the British Empire. The culture and conflicts of these developing nations are brought to life via life-like tableaux and rare artifacts, including intricate armor worn by knights and the arrows, swords and muskets that forged an empire. The Frazier Museum had the distinct honor of being the only location outside Great Britain to house a Royal Armouries collection.

The British Royal Amouries collection had been on loan to the Frazier Museum, since it opened in 2004. Over the years, the Frazier Museum began to change directions, trending towards local and United States history and larger, temporary exhibitions, and in January 2015 the Royal Armouries collection was returned to Great Britain. The third floor space, partial occupied by the Royal Armouries collection, will be reconfigured allowing the museum to significantly re-interpret and display more of its permanent collections and temporary exhibitions.

My Brother, My Enemy: The Civil War in Kentucky

February 14- May 17, 2015

Back by popular demand, and to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, the Frazier Museum presents My Brother, My Enemy: The Civil War in Kentucky. This exhibition explores the fracturing of Kentucky’s families and communities as social and political issues gradually eroded the Union in the decades preceding the outbreak of the Civil War. 

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Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous: Art, Fashion and Luxury in the Gilded Age                               

October 4, 2014 - February 1, 2015

Lifestyles presents the spirit and material culture of the Gilded Age (ca. 1870-1915) through the era’s most iconic artwork and objects. Fashionable dresses and accessories, American Impressionist paintings, and luxury products from the period are among the items featured in the exhibition.

Thank you to our sponsors: Architectural Salvage, Bittners and Rodes.


IrvingBerlin’s White Christmas, The Exhibit                                                           

November 15, 2014 – January 11, 2015

A Hollywood classic and everyone’s favorite holiday movie, White Christmas features costumes and memorabilia on loan from the Rosemary Clooney House, in Augusta, Kentucky. Generations have considered White Christmas the quintessential holiday movie, and now visitors can view authentic items from the movie starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen.

Thank you to our sponsor: PNC Wealth Management

Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame                                      

April 19 - August 31, 2014

The Pro Football Hall of Fame, as part of its 50th Anniversary celebration, is currently touring the largest traveling exhibition in its history – Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The 5,000 square-foot exhibit features hundreds of artifacts from the Hall of Fame’s collection and captures the essence of the Hall of Fame experience. Many of the artifacts are being exhibited for the first time. 


Long May She Wave                                                                                             

February 22  - July 6, 2014

Among the most recognizable icons in the world today, the American flag has enjoyed a long history of graphic renderings and artistic re-interpretations. Although the Continental Congress agreed in 1777 that the United States flag should be comprised of stars and stripes in red, white, and blue, more than a century passed without formal design regulations, yielding a wealth of exuberant and unbridled creative manifestations of the national banner.

Thank you to our sponsor: Bosse Mattingly

The Eye of Napoléon                                                                                                 

October 19, 2013 - March 2, 2014

The Eye of Napoléon examines Napoléon Bonaparte’s extraordinary influence on the creative arts. Objects he used and gave as gifts, as well as more than 200 works of art and craftsmanship are part of the display. Guests will experience a collection of his family’s silver, gold, glassware, porcelain, fine furniture, jewels and elegantly-bound books. Documents and clothing from the period, including a very rare hat that belonged to the emperor himself, and fine fabrics ordered for his imperial palaces complete this decadent exhibition.

Hugh Haynie:  The Art of Opinion

November 9, 2013 through January 26, 2014

From the moon landing to Watergate, political cartoonist Hugh Haynie’s illustrated cartoons brought hard-hitting political commentary into Louisville households for nearly three decades.  Readers recognized Haynie’s cartoons in a unique way, which increased awareness and understanding of the nation’s most controversial issues in the golden era of journalism.

Mythic Creatures

May 11, 2013 - September 15, 2013

“Mythic Creatures” will take guests on a fantastic journey to discover the origins of  dragons, unicorns, mermaid and other folkloric creatures that have fascinated humans for centuries. For thousands of years, sometimes inspired by living animals or even fossils, we’ve have brought mythic creatures to life in stories, songs and artwork. Today, these creatures — from the powerful dragon to the soaring phoenix — continue to thrill, terrify, entertain and inspire us.  This exhibition was produced by the American Museum of Natural History.

Spirits of the Passage: The Story of the Transatlantic Slave Trade”                   

February 2 - June 16, 2013

The human spirit can never be enslaved. One of the most powerful and important exhibitions the Frazier History Museum has ever displayed. “Spirits of the Passage: The Story of the Transatlantic Slave Trade” explored the power of the human spirit through a display of nearly 150 historical objects covering more than 350 years.

Behind Enemy Lines: Evasion and Escape Aids of World War II 

March 2 – April 14, 2013

Lost in enemy territory, your best chance of survival fit in your pocket. Soldiers forced down in enemy territory during World War II carried a secret weapon unlike anything seen before—evasion and escape aids.  See the top-secret gadgets, maps and survival kits that kept soldiers alive behind enemy lines.This exhibition was guest curated by R. E. Baldwin, author of “Last Hope: The Blood Chit Story.”

Diana: A Celebration

September 15, 2012 – January 13, 2013

Guests get a glimpse of the life and humanitarian work of one of the most remarkable women of the 20th Century. The exhibition features more than 150 personal items belonging to Diana, Princess of Wales, including her royal wedding gown, 28 designer dresses, priceless jewels, rare home movies and personal mementos.

Top Drawer: 150 Years of Bittners

November 17, 2012 – January 1, 2013

Guests experienced the old world craftsmanship of handmade furniture through the 18th and 19th centuries through “Top Drawer,” a 4,000 sq. ft. exhibition that explored how a German immigrant’s custom cabinet shop became not only a Louisville tradition, but also a nationally-renowned design firm. Exquisite American, English and Continental furniture inspired by great monarchs and makers were featured, as well as the story of how the political, cultural and social forces of these periods inspired the aesthetic of our homes. Fine antiques from around the world and master-crafted pieces produced by the Bittners custom shop were part of this fantastic display.



May 12, 2012 – September 30, 2012

Samurai were as artistic and philosophical as they were dangerous. Museum guests unlocked the mysteries of the ancient samurai by exploring this an epic display of myth-busting secrets, exquisite artifacts and interactive features related to the mysterious, and misunderstood, Samurai culture.

Civil War: My Brother, My Enemy

October 15, 2011 – April 7, 2012

The War Between the States pitted brother against brother. In Kentucky, family lines were often the battle lines.

Water Works                                                                                                                        

October 23, 2010 - May 1, 2011

Immerse yourself in Louisville Water Company’s fascinating 150-year history of innovation and public service. You’ll follow Louisville’s progress from a city so infamous for unsafe water it was nicknamed the “Graveyard of the West,” to its receiving the award for “Best Tasting Tap Water in the Country” by the American Water Works Association. This interactive experience features video and memorabilia, including photographs, original architectural renderings and much more. So, come and see why Louisville’s greatest legacy may not be who runs in the Derby, but what runs out your tap.

The Good. The Bad. The Cuddly.                                                                                

November 20, 2010 - March 27, 2011

The exhibit features toys and art from the popular Toy Story movie trilogy, along with other movie and TV inspired toys from the past 100 years. Produced by the Frazier Museum and presented by Mountjoy Chilton Medley, “The Good. The Bad. The Cuddly.” examines the playthings that have entertained generations past through a vast collection of classic toys from regional collectors and the Indianapolis Children’s Museum.


May 15 – September 7, 2010

They lived by their own rules, and died by them. And three hundred years after their golden age, we remain captivated by pirates. Come aboard and explore centuries of pirate legends and lore from all over the globe. ”Pirates: Treasure & Treachery” was a thrilling interactive exhibit that offered an unparalleled look at life under the infamous black flag.


WWII: 48 Stories That Changed the World                                                                

October 10, 2009 – March 28, 2010

“We did what we had to do.” The larger story of World War II is made up of millions of individual accounts of sacrifice, adventure and survival. Hear the personal stories of 48 men and women from our area, in their own voices, as we explore this defining event in world history from a local point of view.

Fountaine Ferry                                                                                                                

May 15 – September 8, 2009

From the carousel to the controversy, Fontaine Ferry holds a special place in Louisville history. First kisses atop the Ferris wheel, first pony rides, picnics under the white-washed trees, afternoons spent at the roller rink. Talk to any number of people who visited Fontaine Ferry Park and you’ll find that nostalgia and memories abound.