Scene from the 2017 Speed Art Museum Gala, photo courtesy of Frankie Steele/Speed Art Museum

Since the Speed Art Museum relaunched in 2016, it has managed to capture the zeitgeist of the Louisville community. Buzz for the Speed’s popular After Hours events has spurred record-setting attendance those evenings. The Loving Vincent film at the Speed Cinema extended its run numerous times in the last few months due to audience demand, and there are many other cutting-edge programming and exhibits available at the Speed Art Museum. The 2018 Speed Art Museum Ball, on Saturday, March 3, will continue the Museum’s renewed vision and energy, while giving a nod to tradition.

Something new -The Late Night ticket

The Speed Art Museum Ball has been the premier fundraising event for the Speed Art Museum since the mid-1970s, and is critical for supporting the Museum’s mission, exhibitions, programming, and vision. For the first time since the Museum’s reopening in 2016, the Speed Ball is returning to a seated dinner format. Evan McMahon, Chief of Staff to the Director, said the dinner portion of the evening is sold out, with more than 500 expected to attend, but a Late Night ticket is still available for this year.

Scene during the 2017 Speed Art Museum Gala, photo courtesy of Frankie Steele/Speed Art Museum

The $200 Late Night ticket, which begins at 9 p.m., includes cocktails, dessert and dancing with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, a national touring act from New Orleans. A lounge area sponsored by Churchill Downs will also be available for a quieter time, featuring a deejay and nice ambient music, so you can enjoy a cocktail, said McMahon.

Event sponsors Brown-Forman and Old Forester will be providing unique cocktail and bourbon experiences throughout the night. The whole event will be a great mingling of the two crowds of dinner and Late-Night patrons, said McMahon. “The Late Night ticket is also 50 percent tax deductible, so you can be philanthropic and also enjoy what will be the greatest party in town,” he said.

Returning to tradition

“This year’s Speed Art Museum Ball is indicative of where the Speed Museum is at in its newly invigorated vision,” said Evan McMahon. “Guests are very excited for this return to tradition. One of the unique things about the Speed Ball is there are very few places where you can have a seated dinner in such an elegant gallery setting. The art will speak for itself as the perfect backdrop. The Speed Ball has always been an event where your ticket is your donation, and no fundraising happens once you get through the door,” said McMahon. “Combining those things is returning this event to its roots and tradition.”

Scene during the 2017 Speed Art Museum Gala, photo courtesy Frankie Steele/Speed Art Museum

McMahon gives credit to staff and volunteers for this year’s exuberance around the Speed Ball. “The event is being chaired by two incredible women – Laura Benson Jones and Woo Speed McNaughton, and they are supported by a large, energetic committee – which is all male, by the way – in returning the Ball to a night that can’t be missed,” said McMahon.

The innovative and responsive programming at the Speed continues with the new nationally-touring exhibition, Women Artists in the Age Of Impressionism, which is now open through May 13, 2018. Interest in the exhibition has been high, McMahon said. “People are going to go crazy for this exhibition. It’s a blockbuster in every sense of the word. It’s just capturing that lightning in a bottle. We intend to do that with this year’s Late Night at the Speed Ball as well.”

“We really believe the museum is hitting its stride and firing on all cylinders these days,” said McMahon. “Our mission for reopening was that we wanted to be a museum for the 21st century and everything that encapsulates. The programming this year is focused on giving people unique experiences that they want – what they think a cultural institution should be giving them – while also being what a museum has been traditionally for many people. We have a great team that is continually learning about our audience and making each day better and better for community. We like to say you can experience the Museum ‘at your speed.’”

For more information about The Speed Art Museum and the Speed Art Museum Ball, click here.

Speed Art Museum
Whether you’re an art aficionado or don’t know a Dali from a Degas, you can find fresh inspiration and meaning at the Speed Art Museum. With modern architecture, expanded programming, interactive exhibits and inviting outdoor spaces, the Speed Art Museum offers countless opportunities for everyone to create their own connections and experience art at their own speed.


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