The Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory on Tuesday unveiled renovations including a new film, additional exhibits and more insights into bat production.
“This was a monumental project. Some places shut down when they do major league upgrades, but not us,” said Anne Jewell, the museum’s vice president and executive director. “The factory needed to keep producing bats throughout the changes, and the museum was dedicated to providing tours for our guests who come to see us from around the world.”
The new film shows guests the forests and mills in Pennsylvania where Louisville Slugger bats begin. Once guests enter the factory, bigger monitors feature new footage from inside the factory machines, and the tour has an improved sound system.
There’s also a new “billet bin,” which allows guests to see the wood in the form it arrives to the factory in, before it is made into a bat. The bin has the “billets” organized by which MLB player they are being used for.
The old-fashioned hand-turning method of making bats is now on display in the main gallery before guests enter the factory. They can watch the old bat-making method daily for as long as they want. The burn-branding process will also be on display in the main gallery starting July 1. The process shows how bats are rolled over a 1,300-degree plate for branding. This will allow people to take pictures and interact with the workers.
The Slugger Museum renovations started years ago with the design, Jewell said, but much of the labor started in December, which included relocating machines and changing tour routes.
“For the factory, relocating machines while maintaining production was like moving pieces on a giant chess board,” Jewell said. “And some of those pieces weighed 9,000 pounds. It required smart strategy, planning and flexibility. The museum tour team also did an amazing job staying on top of their game as the tour route changed many times, and machine placement changed many times, sometimes within the same day.”
About 300,000 people visit the factory and museum annually. The museum said the new upgrades represent the first major renovation since its opening in 1996.
Check out photos from the new gallery and tour below.