Local News

Exhibit Marks Water Company’s 150 Years Of History

The history of the Louisville Water Company is the subject of a new museum exhibit.          

“Water Works,” which opens Saturday at the Frazier International History Museum, highlights the publicly owned company, one of the oldest in the country. The LWC is marking its 150th anniversary this year.

“We’ve been working on this exhibit with the Frazier for over a year. Over the next seven months, we’re going to be able to showcase to our community, adults and children alike, how water works in louisville. and originally our first name was the Louisville Water Works,” said Greg Heitzman, company president and CEO.

The exhibit includes photographs, documents and other memorabilia.            

(Photo courtesy of Louisville Water Co.)

Local News

Frazier Museum Resumes Free Lecture Series

The Bite of History lunchtime lecture series has resumed at the Frazier International History Museum in downtown Lousiville. Spokesperson Krista McHone says the lectures are open to everyone.

“It’s a good opportunity to come to the museum. It’s free. We encourage people to bring their own lunch and they can also check out the exhibit galleries while they’re here,” she said.

Lectures are every third Thursday of each month at noon. The next one, on September 16, is called “Abraham Lincoln and the Underground Railroad in Kentucky.”

Local News

Oldest Civil War Memorial Moved To Museum

A nearly 150 year old Civil War memorial has been moved to a new home in the Frazier International History Museum.    Known as the “Bloedner Monument,”  it has spent most of its years in Cave Hill National Cemetery, but was moved indoors recently because of weather-related deterioration.         

It was created by Union Private August Bloedner to honor his fellow soldiers killed in the Battle of Rowlett’s Station near Munfordville, Kentucky in December of 1861.    All were members of the 32nd Indiana Infantry, a unit made up of German immigrants.

Historian Alec Bennett with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says it’s the nation’s oldest existing Civil War memorial.

“There is a record of a monument being installed in the Battle of First Manassas in Virginia, but that monument was lost a year after it was installed,” he said.

Bennett says such relocation projects don’t occur very often.

“Moving monuments out of cemeteries is something that we do not do very regularly…it  is extremely rare.  We decided to do it with this particular monument because it has exceptional historic significance,”  he said.

The memorial will remain at the Frazier Museum for at least ten years.


Arts and Humanities Local News

Museum Exhibits Rare Books on Astronomy

First editions of two revolutionary books that developed the field of astronomy are on view at a local museum.
WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

The books on display at the Frazier International History Museum are from the University of Louisville Libraries archives.

On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres by Copernicus proposed that the Earth orbits around the Sun, as opposed to the Catholic Church’s position where the Earth was the center of the universe. The book is one of only 276 that survive. Galileo’s Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems is that scientist’s most famous work which championed the ideas presented by Copernicus.

It caused the Church to condemn Galileo, but it also marked a turning point for science, says Frazier Museum executive director Madeline Burnside.

“When you see it and realize that this a book that somebody really risked their life to produce and how important these ideas were and how world changing they were,” Burnside says. “I mean it really is the sort of watershed period because people become very, very interested in the science of motion.”

Burnside says Galileo and Copernicus knew that their ideas defied conventional thinking of their time and put them in danger.

“Copernicus’ book, in which he proved that the Earth that went round the sun — at the time he wrote the book, he was totally afraid to even think of publishing it because it would have been heresy and he could have been burned at the stake,” she says.

The exhibit, called Fathers of Astronomy, also features the Nuremberg Chronicle, which presented a biblical view of the world. This predecessor to the works of Copernicus and Galileo is an illustrated world history from Creation up to the time of the book’s 1493 publication. Less than 400 of these books have survived.

Burnside says she and the museum staff were thrilled the University of Louisville Libraries lent the books to the museum for the exhibit.

“The opportunity to actually see books like this, to really see the real thing is incredibly rare,” she says. “You can get your nose, like, 8 inches away from the actually book. That’s pretty amazing.”

The exhibit runs through January. It’s part of the International Year of Astronomy which marks the 400th anniversary of the first use of an astronomical telescope by Galileo.

Arts and Humanities Local News WFPL News Department Podcast

U of L Launches Arts and Culture Initiative

The University of Louisville has announced its new Arts and Culture Partnerships Initiative. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

The initiative took root two years ago when the university began to develop formal agreements with local arts and cultural groups that could benefit nonprofits while giving students learning opportunities and faculty prospects to advise these groups. So far, the university has partnerships with 13 organizations. (See list below.)

Blaine Hudson is the dean of the college of arts and sciences and helped spearhead the project.

“This could be a network that certainly would be regionally unique,” Hudson says. “If we elaborate it fully, it could be nationally unique; if we really explore all the possibilities in it.”

Hudson says the university has spent about $100,000 on the initiative and has applied for grants to further fund it.

Former Speed Art Museum director Peter Morrin also has been working on this project . He says interaction between U of L and these groups can create a learning community.

“It’s how we can really make these resources part of the intellectual and academic fabric of the university and how the university, in turn, can bring its intellectual resources to bear for the university,” Morrin says.

Hudson says he wants these formal partnerships to makes the university a stronger part of the region and help vital organizations.

“It’s easy to say “be involved in the community,” he says, “but that usually doesn’t result in much of anything beyond just random activity. So, we wanted to create some structure, some programs, some formal relationships that would be mutually beneficial.”

Arts and Culture Partnerships Initiative
Crane House, the Asia Institute, Inc.
Farmington Historic Plantation

Filson Historical Society
Frazier International History Museum
Kentucky Center for African American Heritage
Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft
Locust Grove
Louisville Visual Art Association
Muhammad Ali Center

Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind
Portland Museum
Speed Art Museum
Riverside, the Farnsley-Moremen Landing
University of Louisville 


Arts and Humanities In-Depth News Local News

Arts Groups Watch, Plan for Economic Fallout

Sure, the end-of-the-year holidays have significant meaning for different faiths, but this time is also when arts organizations take stock of their current season…and plan for the next. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports on how the current economy is factoring into what we might see and hear in the future.

Summer’s high fuel costs and the economy now on the skids means holiday spending will be less lavish this year for many Louisville families. That includes the Glissons, says mother-of-three Amy Glisson.

“It’s going to be very tight having done a lot of things this summer with the gas being so high, we overdid it,” Glisson says. “So, now we’re just trying to lay back a little bit.”

That sentiment has city arts organizations paying close attention to how people are spending their money, including the Louisville Ballet.

In a studio, dancers are furiously rehearsing the final scene of “The Nutcracker” for this year’s run that opens next week. Ticket sales for this production are key to the company’s survival.

“Nutcracker is 25 percent of our annual budget: three and a half million dollar budget, 25 percent of that hits in about 10 days in December,” says Jack Lemmon, the company’s executive director.

So far, the ballet has sold 40 percent of the tickets it needs to sell. While Lemmon says it’s too early to tell if the economy is affecting Nutcracker sales, he says sales for performances in early October were off.

“I could feel tickets sagging,” Lemmon says. “That was the week the stock market kind of went shoop. Our ticket sales didn’t do quite as well as I would have thought.”

Signs from other arts organizations are mixed. Actors Theatre of Louisville is hitting its ticket sales goals for holiday shows. They’re 29 percent of the season’s total ticket sales. Attendance of the Speed Art Museum’s current exhibit of historic American Art was less than expected, causing the museum to lower prices.

Over at the Frazier International History Museum, revenue from attendance makes up 20 percent of the budget, and in the past few months, it has fallen about 2 percent.

“We could easily lose 5 percent of our income there,” says the museum’s  executive director, Madeline Burnside. “I’m hoping it’s not that drastic.”

The museum has a hiring freeze, and Burnside and staff are planning future exhibits that are inexpensive to produce.

“You’ve got to prepare for the worst and fight for the best,” Burnside says.

People who advise arts organizations says be conservative when planning. On is Teresa Eyring, who heads the Theatre Communications Group and its 460 member theaters, including Actors Theatre.

“This would be a time to be thinking about really how bad could it get and how would we function if that worst case scenario came to be reality,” Eyring says.

Actors’ managing director, Jennifer Bielstein, says the theater doesn’t plan on scaling back on any current season productions, but it’s gone through its budget and deferred some capital expenditures.

“We are budgeted so tightly,” Bielstein says. “Every dollar is accounted for where it’s to be spent, and with our planning cycle of committing to a season, a year to a year and half in advance, it’s hard to make those short-term reactionary adjustments when funding sources decrease.”

Arts leaders are now planning for next season and that is where they are looking to scale down costs. Actors Theatre and the Broadway Series are considering fewer shows. The Louisville Ballet, the Louisville Orchestra and the Kentucky Opera plan to announce their seasons early to be first in line for people’s entertainment budgets.

Most organizations are trying to avoid lowering ticket prices. But leaders say if people’s discretionary income falls further, they may have to do just that.

Arts and Humanities Local News

Cultural Attractions Reduce Admissions this Week

Many cultural attractions around town are offering free or reduced admissions while power in Louisville area many homes and area schools are closed. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

The Frazier International History Museum, the Louisville Science Center and the Louisville Zoo are among the organizations offering reduced or free admissions until schools reopen.

Mark Zoeller of the zoo says visitors can see almost all of the zoo’s exhibits, even though it is dealing with several consequences of Sunday’s wind storm.

“We’re still doing clean up so when people come out to the zoo they need to understand that we’re without power so we are reduced in some of our offerings and some of the pathways are still closed while we’re doing some of that tree removal,” Zoeller says.

While the zoo and the Louisville Science Center are offering discounted prices. The Frazier International History Museum is offering free admission. Mark Zanni is with the museum.

“We saw that a lot of people were unfortunately out of power,” Zanni says. “We were one of the fortunate ones that did have power, so what we decided to do is offer the museum up for free, for all families until schools reopen, free admission to the museum.”

Public schools in Jefferson, Bullitt and Oldham counties and those with the Archdiocese of Louisville canceled classes Wednesday. Greater Clark schools in Indiana are closed for the rest of the week.