Explore the Arts in Louisville

Home to a variety of museums, art galleries, theaters and festivals – and a supportive community.

Jessica Walker Boehm
On Monday, May 14, 2012 - 14:17
Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft in Louisville, KY

Louisville's creative, clever minds may all think to the beat of different drums, but they all think alike when it comes to supporting and promoting the city's huge arts scene, which includes dozens of museums, galleries, theaters and festivals.

As impressive as Louisville’s artsy offerings may be, they would never succeed without the sustained energy of arts-minded residents, who not only get the word out to visitors about all the creative experiences the city has to offer, but strongly support the scene themselves by consistently showing up in droves for events and performances. 

Strong and passionate arts organizations, such as Louisville Visual Art Association, founded in 1909, and LOOK, a consortium of approximately 45 fine arts galleries, also help keep the city's creative vibe going strong.

“Louisville is a great place for the arts because it has energy and a love of the arts community that is unlike any other city that I have ever been to,” says Kirsten Popp, communications manager for the Speed Art Museum.

Museums and Art Galleries

Dating to 1927, the Speed Art Museum is the state's oldest and largest museum, but it offers a collection that reaches much further into human history.

“Visitors will find a variety of unique art experiences, including a world-class collection spanning 6,000 years of human creativity," Popp says. "We have international exhibitions, a highly acclaimed concert series, the Art Sparks Interactive Family Gallery and the popular late-night event Art After Dark."

In the family gallery, kids have a creative blast, using museum-supplied materials to construct masterpieces in the Hands-On Art Room, build their imaginations - and more - with blocks of all shapes and sizes in the Architexture Station and literally step back into historical settings such as a replica 17th century Dutch kitchen or a teepee in the Native American Collection.

For an even more localized focus on visual art, visitors may admire works by more than 600 Kentucky and regional artists at the  Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft (KMAC). The museum, which opened in 1981, is located on Museum Row on Main. In addition to exhibition and retail areas, the museum offers many educational programs for both children and adults, including hands-on workshops and summer camps.

Additional museums in the area include the Frazier History Museum, Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, Louisville Science Center and the Muhammad Ali Center.

For a complete listing of museums and galleries, visit www.looklouisvilleart.com.

Performing Arts 

Patrons of performing arts are greeted with hundreds of opportunities here to experience world class theatre, music and dance here, as well.

At least 200,000 guests take in the more than 500 performances each year by Actors Theatre of Louisville, located downtown, which presents about 20 productions annually.

The theatre is also responsible for the Humana Festival of New American Plays, which has been entertaining the community since 1980. The festival, sponsored by The Humana Foundation, includes full-length plays, one-act productions, monologues and other performances.

The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts also features live events, often setting the stage for some of the area's most popular performers, including the Louisville Orchestra, Kentucky Opera and Louisville Ballet.

Learn more about the arts in Louisville.


Jessica Walker Boehm is a journalism graduate of Belmont University and has been a regular contributor to Livability.com since 2010.