By Hannah Schultz, Features Editor
The University of Kentucky Art Museum is one of only two art museums in the state, and with that unique position comes responsibility—a responsibility to engage Kentuckians with culture. However, this feat is no easy task in an era of instantaneous gratification and in an area where the predominant audience is college students.
“The museum is an interesting construct now, maybe in ways that it wasn’t before, because it has to do battle with the real world and all these things that call our attention,” said Stuart Horodner, the director of the museum, to the Lexington Herald Leader.
This struggle has caused the museum to completely restructure itself in order to attract a wider audience. The first change was dropping the museum’s admission charge. Visitors will no longer have to scrounge for cash in order to drop by an interesting exhibit, which is good news for broke college students around the state.
The major change, however, was to the permanent exhibit upstairs. Here, museum visitors will notice that the museum has been transformed by returning to the past. Pieces that have been kept in storage for years or even decades have been dusted off and hung in nontraditional ways, challenging popular conceptions of art.
“In Horodner’s world, a 19th-century oil painting of Henry Clay hangs next to an Andy Warhol screen print,” Rich Copley wrote in the Herald Leader. “A biblical sketch by Rembrandt of Abraham preparing to sacrifice Isaac hangs next to a black-and-white photograph from President John F. Kennedy’s funeral in a gallery of works addressing mortality.”
Notably, works such as an etching by Rembrandt, an oil Madonna and Child by the Italian master Carracci and a copper plate engraving by Dürer have been exhumed. The permanent exhibit will also shift as the year goes on to showcase more of the museum’s collection rather than keeping it static. Thanks to these additions, the UK Art Museum is now displaying some of the same artists that hang in the Metropolitan Museum of Art—our own little slice of the Met culture in downtown Lexington.