The rapid growth and development of the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art in its first four decades has enhanced Owensboro’s quality of life by its contributions to education, economic development and cultural tourism.
The museum’s historically important complex consisting of three wings, two of which are on the National Register of Historic Sites, is a visual complement to Owensboro. Its Ryan Sculpture Park complements the facility and features monumental bronzes by major American artists commemorating an ancient buffalo trace which early settlers followed to establish Owensboro on the banks of the Ohio River.
The Permanent Collection, showcased in two wings, contains more than 4,000 objects of world art dating from the 15th-century to the present. It is a visual mecca of American, European and Asian art. Among its treasures of internationally important works are those by 20th c. master, Pablo Picasso (1881-1973); English portraitist, Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1839); American painters Martin Johnson Heade (1819-1904), Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827) and Frank Duveneck (1848-1919).
The contemporary American collection showcases works by such important artists as Jack Youngerman, Robert Berks, Peter Reginato, Harry Jackson (1924-2011), NA, Will Barnet (1911-2012), T. D. Kelsey and Joe Downing (1925-2007) as well as a special selection of 20th c. Studio Art Glass representing artists of national and international acclaim such as Stanislav Libenski (1921-2002), William Carlson, Joel Phillip Myers and Jon Kuhn. An important aspect of the Permanent Collection documents the cultural history of Kentucky from the early 1800’s to the present and a significant portion celebrates the internationally recognized tradition of Appalachian Folk Art.
Exhibitions change every three months in the temporary exhibitions wing and more than 500 have been featured since the museum opened in 1977. Many of these from major American museums and galleries have introduced some of the art world’s most distinguished artists, scholars, educators and critics to local audiences. A public archive has been created by the museum’s publishing program which has produced books documenting these exhibitions. The competitive exhibitions, the “Mid America Biennial” and “RiverArtes”, have given the museum a national presence and acquired two and three-dimensional works of art for local public and private collections.
A special emphasis is placed on the education of children with three galleries designated for that purpose. The Michael Horn E. Family Foundation ArtLand, a fully equipped art studio, is designed to challenge and stimulate youthful imaginations and provides free art instruction during regular museum hours. The John and Riley Hess Kaleidoscope Kave, an interactive video gallery combines learning experiences in both the visual and performing arts. The Waymond Morris Young at Art Gallery is a special space designated for rotating exhibitions of art by children and serves as a showcase for regional school projects.
The free Owensboro Grain Company Art Camps provide unique educational opportunities to the region’s youth which serve as a catalyst for partnerships with community social service agencies. Artworks, an educational partnership offered to regional school systems features comprehensive services which use the museum’s resources as tools to reach curriculum goals.
The museum’s services extend beyond its walls as it shares its resources in many community partnerships. A collaborative project with the City of Owensboro has established a Municipal Art Collection creating a showcase of public art that has placed more than 20 works of monumental outdoor sculpture in the riverfront development and throughout the city.
Other partnerships have included a role as visual arts advisor for the Daviess County Fiscal Court’s Bicentennial Celebration which resulted in the acquisition of an important bronze sculpture for the courthouse lawn and the publication of an official Daviess County Coloring Book for kids. In collaboration with the Civil War Sesquicentennial the museum organized a major exhibition documenting that war in Kentucky. A partnership with the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation resulted in a museum satellite gallery for their offices in the downtown Commerce Center.
The generosity of Owensboro’s corporate, private and public sectors has made it possible for the museum to become a premier educational resource for the region and offer a quality of service not usually found outside major metropolitan areas.
The Owensboro Museum of Fine Art is free and open to all. It does not charge an admission fee, however admission contributions of $3 for adults and $2 for children are welcomed. The museum is located at 9th and Frederica Streets and hours are Tuesday through Friday Noon to 5:00 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Closed on National Holidays. Contact information is [email protected] or 270-685-3181.