Tales from the Turf: The Kentucky Horse

Tales from the Turf: The Kentucky Horse, 1825 – 1950

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

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. Early horse breeders looked to the gentlemen farmers of Virginia for inspiration in business and collecting art. Sporting art traditions carried over from England helped launch the Thoroughbred trade, and by the late nineteenth century, an industry focused on the “betterment of the breed” would witness the rise of over 60 racecourses across the state.

An agricultural and aristocratic pastime became a multi-billion dollar industry in the twentieth century, and the desire 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.

To reserve tickets, click here.

Public Programs at the Speed Art Museum presented in association with Tales from the Turf  include:

  • Thursday, November 14, 5:30 – 7 pm: Patron Circle Exhibition Opening Preview Reception
  • Thursday, November 14, 7 – 9 pm: Speed Member Exhibition Preview Opening
  • Friday, November 15, 5 – 10 pm: Celebrate the opening as part of After Hours at the Speed! | RESERVE
  • Sunday, December 1, 2 – 3 pm: Project to Preserve African-American Turf History (PPAATH): Tales of African-American Kentucky Derby Achievements from 1875 – 1902 | LEARN MORE
    • A discussion of pioneering efforts of African-American racehorse men who shaped the early legacy of the racing industry.
    • Curator Erika Holmquist-Wall will join the discussion.

Exhibition support provided by:









Mr. and Mrs. George Hoskins
Austin and Janie Musselman
William McMahan
Nina Bonnie
Mr. and Mrs. Tracy Farmer
Connie Goodman
Susan and Allan Lavin
Carol and Charles Hebel
Helen Condon Powell
Genevieve and Terry Lacer
Hardscuffle, Inc.

Exhibition season support provided by:
Dav Fam Art Fund
Cary Brown and Steven E. Epstein
Paul and Deborah Chellgren
Debra and Ronald Murphy
Eleanor Bingham Miller