The Kentucky Museum has received a grant from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation that will allow the Museum to offer free admission to the public for three years.
Previously, admission to the Museum was based on a per-person charge, with free admission for Western Kentucky University students, faculty and staff. The Free Admission pilot program will build upon the success of “Free Wednesdays in July” and “Pay as You Will Saturdays” initiatives the Museum recently implemented. The Carpenter Foundation was established in 1975 by E. Rhodes Carpenter. The Richmond, Va., based company, now known as Carpenter Co., has a location in Russellville, Ky.
“The staff, board and Friends of the Kentucky Museum are very grateful for the recent gift from the Carpenter Foundation to help us reach an ever-widening group of visitors,” said Brent Bjorkman, Director of the Kentucky Museum. “For nearly 80 years, the Kentucky Museum has been a learning laboratory for our entire community and a place for visitors to learn more about the culture, history and art of this region of Kentucky and beyond. This funding will allow us to provide free admission for the general public, something we have long sought to do, and further our efforts to share innovative exhibits and programs with so many.”
“Free admission enables everyone in our community to enjoy the Kentucky Museum, providing them with space to make new friends, develop new skills and engage with arts and culture,” said Tiffany Isselhardt, Fundraising Coordinator for the Kentucky Museum. “Twenty-eight percent of Bowling Green families are designated as low-income, and while our admission fees were modest, even $20 for family admission can be a huge barrier for struggling families.”
The Carpenter Foundation sponsorship is for three years, allowing the museum to evaluate and gather evidence to support future sponsorship of free admission. The Museum will continue to charge a per-person fee for docent-guided tours and select community workshops, which will help cover staffing and materials costs. Reservations for docent-guided tours can be made on the Museum’s website.
“We are thrilled to open our doors to the public while retaining critical funding for our exhibitions and community programs,” said Isselhardt. “The Carpenter Foundation’s sponsorship is a holiday wish come true for us and the community. Through our Friends membership program and private sponsors, we look forward to growing the Free Admission Fund so that all members of our community can enjoy the Kentucky Museum in perpetuity.”
Free admission will begin Jan. 1, 2019. The Kentucky Museum is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. To find out more about visiting the Museum, call (270) 745-2592 or visit https://www.wku.edu/kentuckymuseum/.