Frazier History Museum

The Founder's Gallery
March 9, 2018

 Owsley Brown Frazier,  2000. Robert Alexander Anderson, Frazier History Museum Collection

Owsley Brown Frazier,  2000.
Robert Alexander Anderson, Frazier History Museum Collection

The Frazier History Museum is proud to announce the opening of the Founder’s Gallery, a permanent addition to the Museum dedicated to its founder, local philanthropist Owsley Brown Frazier. 

Born in Louisville in 1935, Owsley Brown Frazier was the grandson of George Garvin Brown, founder of alcohol distributor Brown-Forman. After graduating from the University of Louisville he joined Brown-Forman in 1960, became its Director of Personnel in 1964 and served as its Vice-Chairman from 1983 to 2000, at which point he retired but remained on the Board of Directors. A renowned philanthropist, Frazier was one of the leading individual donors to Jewish Hospital, Frazier Rehab Institute, University of Louisville, Bellarmine University and Kentucky Country Day. Before he passed away in 2012 his charitable donations were estimated to total over $500 million.

An avid collector of historic weapons, Frazier donated his arms collection to the Frazier Historical Arms Museum, now called the Frazier History Museum, an institution bearing his name which opened in 2004. With the addition of the Founder’s Gallery the Frazier seeks to honor the man, the collection and the legacy he left behind. This exhibit features a rotating cast of historically significant arms such as Buffalo Bill’s rifle, Colt firearms, Custer’s ivory-coated pistol, Eisenhower’s rifle, “Excalibur,” Geronimo’s bow and quiver of arrows, Hale knives, a Remington Cane gun, selections from the Jesse James Collection and Teddy Roosevelt’s “Big Stick”; as well as international artifacts such as an Austrian Wheelock Rifle, a British cannonball, a German Snap Matchlock Target Rifle, a Jingasa helmet, a Philippine Crossbow and a suit of Samurai armor.

On display are information panels and quotes about Frazier, his family history, his career at Brown-Forman and his voluminous arms collection; original copies and excerpts of early museum documents, congratulatory letters from Buckingham Palace and the White House and magazine and newspaper articles about Frazier’s life and the museum he founded, dating from its first announcement to its grand opening; photographs of select arms, building renovations, opening day and “The Art of the Weapon,” a Kentucky Historical Society event in 2000 that prefigured the founding of the museum; a portrait of Frazier; Ed Hamilton’s sculpture Looking Westward; and miscellaneous items such as Frazier’s desk and an original beam from the building. A map of Louisville showing buildings, facilities and organizations supported by Frazier, and an aerial view of the University of Louisville labeled with sponsorship information, speak to the enduring legacy of the Frazier family in the community.