Blue Star Museums Blog (Archive)

Five Questions with The Speed Art Museum

Louisville, Kentucky

Visitors look at Portrait of a Forty Year Old Woman by Rembrandt. Photo by Marty Pearl

With the Kentucky Derby, mint juleps, and the world's most famous baseball bats, Louisville has more than left its mark on American culture. However, the city has also earned its place in the art world, boasting the oldest and largest art museum in Kentucky. At The Speed Art Museum, visitors can travel the globe as they take in Ancient, African, and Native American art, as well as a vast collection of European and American works. Pablo Picasso, Frank Stella, Claude Monet, Andy Warhol, Marc Chagall, Constantin Brancusi...all have found a home on the museum's walls. If you'll be visiting with children, the Speed also has an interactive kid's gallery called Art Sparks, which transforms visual art into a touchable, wearable---even danceable!---medium. We talked with the Speed's Kirsten Popp about the ins and outs of this fine arts institution.

NEA: In your opinion, what makes the Speed Art Museum unique?

KIRSTEN POPP: The Speed Art Museum is a place where all members of the community are welcome and can engage in art experiences in a variety of ways. The Speed offers visitors a variety of unique art experiences including a world class collection spanning 6,000 years of human creativity, international exhibitions, a highly acclaimed concert series, the Art Sparks Interactive Family Gallery, and the popular late-night event, Art After Dark.

NEA: What’s your favorite part of the museum?

POPP: Art Sparks, the Speed’s interactive learning gallery for families, is always a favorite. In Art Sparks, you are actually encouraged to touch the art and create your own masterpiece! There is a Dutch merchant ship and kitchen that are life-sized replicas of images found in the collection's artwork. Kids can actually step into them. How cool is that?

Interior of The Speed Art Museum. Photo by Sarah Lyon

NEA: Can you tell me about the different exhibits that visitors will find this summer?

POPP: This summer the Speed will present a wide variety of exhibitions including an outstanding display of American quilts in Quilts from Kentucky and Beyond: The Bingham-Miller Family Collection, an exhibit called The Case of the Italian Altarpiece that explores the discovery of a piece of stolen artwork in the collection, and contemporary displays such as Being & Making: Artists Investigating Identity and Julian Opie: Selections from the Chellgren Collection. Visitors will also be able to get a look at the future of the Speed in Unveiling the New Speed: A Model of the Future.

NEA: If a visitor only had time to see five pieces in the collection, what would you recommend?

POPP: We have just acquired a wonderful new Impressionist work by the painter Alfred Sisley called Hilly Path, Ville-d’Avray that is simply breathtaking. Pablo Picasso’s Woman in the Studio, Rembrandt’s Portrait of a Forty Year Old Woman, Claude Monet’s The Church at Varengeville, Grey Weather, and Frank Stella’s Chocorua II are all favorite’s of the collection among visitors.

Visitors look at Saint Jerome by Hendrick van Somer. Photo by Marty Pearl

NEA: Can you tell us a little more about Art Sparks?

POPP: Art Sparks is an award-winning, interactive gallery where the whole family can share art adventures together with more than 30 hands-on art activities, including video artworks that allow you to dance inside, an African mask that you can wear, and a separate area designed especially for children under five. Art Sparks has become a national model for interactive learning spaces.

The Speed Art Museum
2035 South Third Street
Louisville, Kentucky 40208

Please visit the Blue Star Museum website for more information about the program and to find participating museums.

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