Kentucky Folk Art Center at Morehead State University
Established by Morehead State University in 1985, this museum and center for the preservation and study of Appalachian folk art was housed in various campus buildings. In 1997, the university acquired this permanent space within the city's First Street Arts District. Each of the museum's growing collection of over 1400 pieces have been crafted by local, self-taught artisans. The Center is divided into two main galleries. On the second floor, visitors can view a variety of rotating and seasonal exhibits drawn from the museum's collection as well as works that have been loaned to the Center for a short time. The first floor contains works from the Center's collection. The Center also maintains a small gift shop that offers original folk art as well as books and home furnishings.
Backstory and Context
With the support of both the president and museum professionals, the collection soon flourished into a perpetual exhibit and, after the state donation of $200,000 donated to the collection by Kentucky senator Robert Stivers, the exhibit was transformed into a campus-based museum known as The Kentucky Folk Art Museum, housed in its own building. Today, the museum houses a permanent collection of over 1,400 works of local art. These works are curated into displays which are rotated, with their locations in the museum alternating between the first-floor gallery and the second-floor gallery. The works housed in the museum are notable for their whimsy and the rural, self-taught nature of them that reflects what it means to the artist to live in Kentucky, feats which attract many visitors and art-enthusiasts to the collection. The museum also regularly features specialized exhibits on its second floor which rotates on an annual basis, which varies from textiles and weaving to photography and historical paintings.
Since its establishment, the museum has won several awards, including the 2010 Governor's Award for the Arts. In addition to housing a vast collection of local art, the museum also houses a large gift shop and hosts a plethora of educational art programs aimed at the country's youth, the latter of which has drawn participants from as far away as Florida.