Tales from the Turf: The Kentucky Horse

November 15, 2019 – March 1, 2020
North Building, 3rd Floor Special Exhibiton

The first exhibition to examine Kentucky’s relationship to the horse through art, Tales from the Turf will feature the paintings, sculpture, photographs, drawings, prints, and manuscripts to tell the story of the horse in the Bluegrass State. The exhibition will reflect all the ways that images of the horse have represented the Commonwealth’s identity, history, mythology, and agricultural economy, from its earliest days through the mid-twentieth century.

Tales from the Turf begins when Kentucky was still the edge of the western frontier, and early breeders looked for models to the gentlemen farmers of Virginia, who in turn looked to the British aristocracy as their own models in business and collecting. In the late 19th Century, an industry focused on the “betterment of the breed” led to Civil War races pitting Northern against Southern horses, and the industry grew to support over 60 racecourses across the state. An agricultural and aristocratic pastime became a multi-billion-dollar industry in the 20th century, and the taste and aesthetics for collecting images of the horse has only grown over the decades. Presenting works from Kentucky’s leading private collections, Tales from the Turf will change Kentucky’s understanding of its own history through the act of making, collecting, and sharing the art of the horse.