Frazier History Museum
Frazier History Museum

The Kentucky Bourbon Trail soon will have a starting line.

It was announced this morning that the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA) is partnering with the Frazier History Museum to develop a new bourbon-oriented visitor experience and history exhibition, which will serve as the starting point to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

In order to properly showcase the bourbon exhibit, the museum will expand to the three buildings adjacent to the museum on West Main Street, which were a gift to the museum from Laura Frazier and Catherine Frazier Joy when their father, Frazier Museum founder Owsley Frazier, died two-and-a-half years ago.

Although the cost for project has not yet been determined, it’ll coincide with Frazier’s $1.4 million Future Fund Phase II renovation that’ll add classroom space and create a more visible entrance and expanded gift shop. A capital campaign will be initiated to raise funds once an estimate is approved.

Initial plans detail an exhibit and visitors experience that will include interactive displays, historical artifacts and learning programs (think: the Kentucky Science Center for bourbon lovers).

The Frazier will expand to its neighboring three buildings to encompass the bourbon exhibit.
The Frazier will expand to its neighboring three buildings on West Main Street to encompass the bourbon exhibit.

“The Frazier Board of Directors sees this as an exceptional opportunity to support our mission and extend our programming as we continue to tell the wonderful stories of our region and the world,” says Frazier interim director Paula Hale. “Bourbon occupies a significant place in our national and community culture, and we look forward to working with the KDA to share its many aspects with our residents and visitors alike.”

The idea for the project came more than a year ago when Frazier and the KDA partnered on a bourbon history exhibit, which included the 1964 congressional resolution declaring bourbon “America’s native spirit.” It was the first time the document left the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

KDA president Eric Gregory says the Frazier is the perfect spot for the exhibit and start of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

“Telling the rich history of bourbon in support of this growing industry is truly a concept whose time has come,” he says. “Not only is bourbon an important part of Kentucky’s heritage but the heritage of our country. The Frazier allows us to tell this story right in the heart of Louisville’s burgeoning downtown bourbon boom, including the revitalization of Whisky Row, the success of the Evan Williams Experience and the continuing addition of craft distilleries. The Frazier is  a natural launch point, and we look forward to capitalizing on the museum’s experience and resources to make this dream a reality.”

The Frazier has hired the world-renowned creative agency Imagination for the project, a company whose résumé includes the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, an off-site installation at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and work for the National History Museum in London.

The construction and installation of the new exhibit will take at least two years to complete.

This story was updated with corrected information about funding for the project.

Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."