Located at Blue Grass Airport, the Aviation Museum of Kentucky pays tribute to the Commonwealth’s rich history of aviation with its impressive squadron of rare and restored aircraft, aviation memorabilia, interactive educational displays, and active aviation restoration shop. Inside the museum, a flock of steel birds suspended on wires hangs from the hangar’s expansive ceiling. A replica of Matthew Sellers’ 1908 quadraplane—the first aircraft built and flown in Kentucky—headlines the museum collection, extending its majestic wings to shake the hands of awestruck visitors. Other exceptional designs include a Skyhawk once flown by the Navy’s Blue Angels, an F-14 Tomcat jet-fighter as seen in the film Top Gun, and a high-bypass turbofan used to propel modern jumbo jets.
Guided tours and interactive exhibits delve into the science and history of flight, while the Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame honors the lives of those who have soared among the clouds, whether in planes or wrapped around the waist of Michael Jordan. Young ones, meanwhile, can learn more about the variety of aviation careers and set their sights on following the tailwinds of famous pilots and designers.
Through informative lectures and thought-provoking exhibits, Lexington History Museum assists all age groups in interpreting and internalizing the city's storied past. A family membership grants you and your kin unlimited access to the exhibits, including Play Date With History, an interactive display inviting children and overanxious history majors to dally around with toys, such as tree branches and miniature tea sets, that Abraham Lincoln's children might have played with in the 1800s. Track the history of key plunking with the Antique Typewriters exhibit, which offers a glimpse into the word processor's lifespan, from its heyday in 1872 to the Great Typewriter Rebellion of 2002. Members also receive The Bluegrass History, a quarterly publication, unlimited free ketchup packets from the place down the street, The Vidette newsletter, and a 10% discount on any additional merchandise.
The Great American Dollhouse Museum houses hundreds of miniature buildings and citizens in a newly renovated 6,000-square-foot historical building, with high arched ceilings and an immense skylight. Curator Lori Kagan-Moore's vision for the museum is that each piece and scene be as authentic as possible. The exhibit begins with a timeline of U.S. history rendered in miniatures and moves to a village set in the early 1900s. The mini-land features a Shaker settlement, gypsy caravan, orphanage, and more, filled with characters wearing period-accurate clothing and interacting with period-accurate cell phones. The dollhouses are kind enough to leave their backs open so museum-goers can peek at the décor, dolls, and salivating grizzly bears. The museum concludes with a fantasy forest, complete with fairies, centaurs, and dragons.
Chronicling the history of the Howard Shipyard, the Howard Steamboat Museum displays a plethora of steamboat artifacts within a 22-room Romanesque-revival mansion that was built in 1894. Visitors to the Howard mansion step into the nineteenth century, as they can admire original furnishings, brass chandeliers, stained-glass windows, intricate carvings, and primitive steam-powered laptop computers. While walking through the preserved halls, patrons have access to a collection of exhibits, including detailed full- and half-hull models, as well as more than 4,000 original photographs and paintings. Inspect the original paddlewheel from The Delta Queen, study artifacts taken directly from the Robert E. Lee and the Natchez, or browse the gift shop for the ideal present for a seafarer.
As dawn breaks over the campsite, soldiers begin stirring in their tents. Some tend to breakfasts over campfires while others see to the artillery. It's a scene straight from a Revolutionary War encampment—and that's exactly the way the reenactors intended it. Each year, roughly 275 of them flock to Locust Grove to camp out for two days, each of which ends with an artfully staged mock battle.
But when visitors come to the 18th Century Market Fair, they won't just find battle awaiting them. Top-notch craftsmen and artisans also roam the grounds, hawking replicas of 18th-century military and household items. "It's all very reminiscent of the type of market days they would have had during this time period," says Locust Grove's program director, Mary Beth Williams. Cooks dish up stews, pies, and cornbread alongside wine, ales, and apple cider. Nearby, families and historical buffs alike cheer on jugglers, watch as women prepare meals in the colonial kitchen, and listen to live music. And it's not just adults and time travelers creating the historical scene. "There's a lot of re-enactors of all ages," Mary Beth says. "I think it's particularly fun for kids to see other kids running around in period costume."
The fair's grounds lend to the historical accuracy. William and Lucy Clark Croghan built Locust Grove in 1790, on 55 acres of rolling land. To this day, their original Federal-style house remains, with its separate kitchen, icehouse, spring house, and barn. Over the years, Locust Grove was inhabited by Revolutionary War commander George Rogers Clark and served as a stopping point for Lewis and Clark as they walked across America as part of an early Nike ad campaign.
Designer and namesake, Craig Kaviar, has more than 30 years of experience creating sculptures and functional metalwork. He and a team of skilled artisans churns out intricate works that are both artful and functional using traditional blacksmithing practices with a modern twist. The tour provides a behind the scenes look into the workings of the forge and live demonstrations allow visitors to witness the master metalworkers do their thing. They’ll heat raw materials to temperatures exceeding 2,000 degrees, using both a traditional coal forge and Kaviar's innovative, eco-friendly forge, fueled by waste vegetable oil and recycled Meat Loaf albums. The tour begins with a visit to the media room and a discussion on the history of metallurgy, from the discovery of copper, to the Bronze Age, to the 'Metal as Junk Food' movement of the 1870's.