The Speed Art Museum
The Speed Art Museum, Kentucky's oldest and largest art museum, is located along south Third Street in downtown Louisville. The museum was originally founded as the J.B. Speed Memorial Museum in 1925 by Hattie Bishop Speed in honor of her husband James Breckinridge. Collections at the museum showcase a wide variety of art from around the world, including ancient, classical, and modern art. The facility was completely renovated and redesigned in the mid-2010s at an estimated cost of $50 million. The museum reopened in 2016 to offer more exhibition spaces as well as a new education center and other facilities.
Backstory and Context
The Speed's original facility was designed by Arthur Loomis, a local architect, and officially opened on January 15, 1927 with a ceremony attended by over two thousand patrons and one hundred artists. The museum was incorporated as a privately endowed institution in 1933, with Hattie Speed serving as the first president and director. A board of governors was also established and the Speed received its first major donation in 1934--a collection of North American Indian artifacts gifted by Dr. Frederick Weygold. The first of three additions to the facility was completed in 1954 following donations made by Dr. Preston Pope Satterwhite.
The museum's collections were expanded in the 1960s under the leadership of Addison Franklin Page. In 1977, the museum welcomed the arrival of one of its most significant pieces, Rembrandt’s Portrait of a Woman. A new wing was added in 1983, and the museum was renovated in 1996 after James Breckinridge's granddaughter gifted $50 million to the Speed family's endowment. The facility reopened in 1997 and thanks to donations, the facility was again expanded and renovated in 2016.
History of the Speed Art Museum, Speed Art Museum official website. Accessed March 27th 2021. https://www.speedmuseum.org/about/history/.