Vision Thru Touch: Kentucky History Center Very Accessible Museum! Our 4 Hour Tour by Touch (Pictures included)

Chris and I are working together to increase his knowledge of science and the world. As every Science teacher knows, SCIENCE IS EVERYWHERE! There is a branch of science study for everything in our world. Since our home state is Kentucky and our touring will be within Kentucky, we decided to benefit from everything we can learn from the Kentucky History Center since we are so lucky to have it right here in our hometown, Frankfort. Our choice turned out to be the best selection we could possibly have made because we found LOTS of SCIENCE as well as HISTORY within this one visit. Please read on and enjoy our picture tour and blog descriptions of Chris “seeing” the KENTUCKY HISTORY CENTER in FRANKFORT KY, Our Vision Thru Touch Tour Day 1. The first picture is the outside of the History Center that covers nearly two full blocks.

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This second picture is the interior lobby area of the KY History Center as seen from the upstairs.

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The Kentucky History Center is located in Franklin County and the City of Frankfort, Kentucky’s State Capitol City.

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The online description for the main exhibit hall at Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History says, “Immerse yourself in the Kentucky experience and watch history come to life in this breathtaking, multi-million dollar museum and research facility. Explore ‘A Kentucky Journey,’ our signature exhibition located in the Warren and Betty Rosenthal Exhibits Gallery, and put yourself in the shoes of Kentuckians who lived through both struggles and triumphs, from the first prehistoric inhabitants to Muhammad Ali. Among the 3,000 cherished artifacts on display, you will see the bullet-pierced coat worn by assassinated Governor William Goebel, rare portraits of free 19th-century African-Americans and period textiles, stitched with care by generations of Kentucky women. Estimated time: one hour.”

Funny thing is Chris and I stayed FOUR HOURS!!!!! We had a great time!!! We would like to give special thanks to the History Center Staff who understood our need to VISION and TOUR THRU TOUCH and made everything as accessible as possible!

“The Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History’s $2.8 million permanent exhibition, “A Kentucky Journey,” uses a remarkable mixture of more than 3,000 historic artifacts, sights and sounds to bring the state’s glorious past to present generations. This chronological walk through time boasts life-size environments, state-of-the art technology and 14 interactive displays.


“A Kentucky Journey” is divided into eight main areas, chronicling life in Kentucky from prehistoric times to the present:”

First Kentuckians (10,000 BC-AD 1750), were Indians and we saw what their houses would have looked like as well as the limestone wall that is characteristic of many parts of Kentucky.  Chris made his first of many discoveries about limestone as we entered the museum and found a limestone wall. Chris’s touch told him that limestone in nature is rough and layered. We immediately began our science conversation and discussed Sedimentary Rocks, of which, limestone is one very common in KY.

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In The Kentucky Frontier (1750-1800), we saw boats like many Kentucky pioneers, including Sue’s grandfather, used to travel down rivers and streams to carry their possessions to their new farms and homes. Sue’s Grandfather Linderman traveled down the Ohio River with his family and nine slave families, to eventually connect to the Mayfield Creek and land near Blandville in Ballard County where they settled. The foundations of the original home and 9 slave homes still exist on the land that Sue’s family still owns. Sue parents were both from Ballard County Kentucky so her family hails from Ballard COunty from the 1700s to present day. Chris found big giant barrels and wooden crates that were used to pack settlers possession. Inside the barrels we found we found some pieces of china and glass broken that let us know that not everything survived the journey to their new homeland.

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In The Antebellum Age (1800-1860), Chris’s favorite exhibits were the weaving loom, the printing press and the settlers wagon loaded with produce. By experiencing the large weaving loom he was able to understand how fabric was made by hand with the loom and the process used to make fabric in present day with more mechanical machines. Chris was intrigued by the printing press since he loves the  technologies of present day so much. The wagon and wagon wheels gave him a true understanding of how transportation has evolved or changed over time. Within each of these three historical exhibits Chris has experienced sciences of invention and evolution of man’s machine technologies including transportation, printing, and fabric design.

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In War and Aftermath (1860-1875), Chris ‘listened’ through the sound booth overhead about slavery, its end and the famous Kentucky moonshine stills.

He was quite interested in the still and its design so we discussed this a lot. The word moonshine refers to any job done at night. Whiskey stills operated at night or out of sight of the legal authorities and thus became moonshiners. Moonshiners are the people who make the alcohol. We discussed the science involved in making moonshine specifically how the still works to make the alcohol. To make moonshine sugar, yeast, water and grain (usually corn/corn meal) are used to the “mash” the same as modern day distilleries do. The significant difference in moonshiner whiskey and modern whiskey from production facilities is the aging. Moonshine still whiskey look clear like water and has a huge ‘kick’ since it has not mellowed or aged. Commercial whiskeys have a golden amber color because they have aged for years in charred oak barrels.

Fermentation and distillation are both important reactions needed to make alcohol. Fermentation, in this case, is the chemical reaction that occurs when yeast breaks down sugar, producing alcohol. Distillation is the process of evaporating alcohol and collecting the steam before condensing back into liquid form. If you read more on making moonshine, you will learn that moonshine was made with a variety of products in the old days actually producing some poisonous drink. Regulations today keep the legal production safe for human consumption.


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In Continuity and Change (1875-1900), we found a table that Chris was able to pick up each item and see if he could identify it. He recognized some of the items by touching and was unable to identify a couple. He correctly identified the rotary desk telephone, the cassette tape, the woven shoe, the beaters, and tea cup. He learned new information about the candle lantern made of tin and the speaker from an outdoor movie drive-in theatre.

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Chris was allowed to touch and learn about the The New Century (1900-1930) and the beginning of motorized transportation with the Model T on exhibit. He was surprised by the wheel with wooden spokes, the protruding headlights, and the crank system used to start the original Model T Fords.

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Depression and War (1930-1950) exhibit included a coal mine complete with a motion-sensored miner actually moving and tapping away at the coal in the mine. Coal is a black sedimentary rock that forms in layers just like the limestone that we saw as we entered the museum. I explained that because these sedimentary rocks make of 99% of the rocks in Kentucky that geology tells us that much of Kentucky was under water millions of years ago. 

As a beginning Earth Science lesson I explained the three basic rock types are sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic and defined each. Sedimentary Rocks frequently contain fossils and are formed through deposits of sediment from water in oceans, rivers, lakes and glaciers. Igneous Rocks form by the cooling and solidifying of molten or volcanic materials either beneath or on the Earth’s surface. Kentucky has little if any igneous rock, whereas Hawaii is mostly igneous rock. Metamorphic Rock means ‘changed’ rock, rock that once sedimentary or igneous but was changed by additional heat or pressure. Examples are marble which is formed from limestone, and slate which is formed from shale. Both change when the original rock experiences heat or pressure from the Earth’s core. In Kentucky most of our coal is Bituminous or sedimentary coal, the kind of coal used in power plants, furnaces, boilers and stoves.

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The Many Sides of Kentucky Exhibit (1950-today), includes a re-creation of an African American church and is used as the setting to tell the nationally significant story of the Civil Rights Era. Here Chris is sitting in the re-created African American church. The ‘sound booths’ hanging from the ceiling told the stories with sound clips of Martin Luther King, JFK and southern preachers in their pulpits. This exhibit, devoted to the civil rights era of the 1950s and 1960s, shares Kentucky’s experience of this historical time period

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The last section of the main exhibit hall is entitled Pure Kentucky and highlights the lives and contributions of famous Kentuckians through artifacts. We saw a boxing robe worn by Muhammad Ali, “scrubs” signed by ER star George Clooney,  a suit that belonged to bluegrass music pioneer Bill Monroe and a warm-up suit from Olympic swimming gold medalist Mary T. Meagher Plant. These are some of the exhibits that I had to verbally describe to Chris since they were encased in clear cases to protect them for many years to come. I read the names of many of the Famous Kentuckians who were highlighted in with pictures. A nice addition to this section would be a hands-on identification table as we found earlier in the museum. The more hands-on the better! Sound booths again gave a touch of sound experience from some of these famous Kentuckians.

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