The Kentucky Derby Museum, which sits on the front steps of historic Churchill Downs, is a very visible part of our community as one of Louisville's premiere attractions. Graciously welcoming over 210,000 guests through the doors each year and giving them a first hand look at the event for which Louisville, Kentucky is known worldwide. The Museum aims to provide a lasting impression of tradition, hospitality and pride to our many visitors.
Opening to the public in April 1985, the Kentucky Derby Museum sits on land that Churchill Downs donated to the non-profit corporation. The construction of the facility and seed money for the endowment fund was provided by the J. Graham Brown Foundation and five banks in the community. Although the Museum maintains a strong relationship with Churchill Downs, it functions as an entirely separate entity with self-generating revenue for its non-profit operating budget.
2010 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Kentucky Derby Museum with a 5.5 million dollar renovation which dramatically transforms the museum interior from top to bottom. The museum embraced the renovation project after a severe flash flood devastated the main floor exhibits and lower level offices of the museum in August of 2009. During the 9 months of closure, the museum created all new themes, developed new research and embraced the mission of "sharing the fun of the Kentucky Derby experience".
The Museum has welcomed more than 4 million visitors from all over the world including celebrities Bo Derek, Steven Spielberg, Kate Capshaw, Muhammad Ali, Sigourney Weaver, Gene Simmons, Susan St. James, Dick Eversoll, O.J. Simpson, President Mikhail Gorbachev, and First Minister of Scotland.
The Kentucky Derby Museum, in addition to preserving the history of the Kentucky Derby, offers so much more to our community. Through our Education Department, we offer a free kids program to all public and parochial schools within the states of Indiana and Kentucky. Through this program, students learn about the economics, history and significance of the Kentucky Derby.