Derby Clock May Find a Home at the Zoo

by ekramer on October 6, 2009

The Derby Clock by the late artist Barney Bright has been out of commission for years, but now it may have found a new home. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

The Louisville Zoo has been in negotiations to take the clock. They’ve involved the city and a foundation headed by Adam Burkle, owner of the Adam Matthews cheesecake company. He and others have spent nearly six years and several hundred thousand dollars to restore it — with its five figures that race around the clock’s face. They’ve also updated its mechanics with new technologies.

Louisville ClockBut the move to the zoo is not a done deal, says the zoo’s assistant director Mark Zoeller.

“We have not decided on an exact location, so that’s a major detail — where it would go,” Zoeller says. “We need to develop it around the current master plan of the zoo and how it fits into the actual operations of the zoo.”

Burkle says leaders of the downtown arena project and Waterfront Park turned down offers to install it at those sites.

He says details to be worked out with the zoo include where it would be located there and funding for the installation and initial operations. And he says once those issues are settled, it will still be some time before the public could see it in action.

“Once we get it to the final destination, which if it is the zoo,” he says, “we’re going to probably have about another six to eight months, weather pending, to finish it all off — of putting wiring, putting in lighting, putting sound and some other things.”

Zoeller says zoo officials are excited about the prospect.

“The clock is just an excellent piece of folk art and folks who kind of grew up in Louisville remember it from its first incarnation,” Zoeller says. “And we think kids who will be introduced to it will love it. And we think that it belongs at a gathering place in Louisville, and that is what the zoo’s about.”

The four-story clock was originally installed downtown in 1976 and then fell into disrepair.

Click here to listen to a piece about public art and the clock.

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