Monday, March 29, 1999

Kentucky history has new home

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Northern Kentucky historians and history buffs are pleased by the imminent opening of the Kentucky History Center in Frankfort.

        They say the $29 million facility will boost the state's economy and be a boon to those interested in genealogy, state-of-the-art technology and, of course, Kentucky history.

        “It represents more than just history and should be of interest to more than historians, scholars and genealogists,” said Frank Steely, a history professor at Northern Kentucky University, for whom the campus library is named.

        “The most popular hobby these days is genealogy, so what this means is you will have vaster numbers of people coming through Kentucky,” he said. “This will lead to a great help to the economy.”

        The Kentucky History Center has been in the works about 10 years. A celebration, complete with a parade through Frankfort's historic downtown, will take place April 10.

        Ground-breaking for the 167,000-square-foot center began about a year ago. It will house a state museum and a genealogical research library.

        Backers expect it to draw 150,000 visitors within a year.

        The museum will feature a permanent 20,000-square-foot exhibit, “A Kentucky Journey.” The $2.8 million exhibit will allow visitors to study Kentucky history chronologically by walking a trail featuring life-sized environments and 14 interactive displays.

        “I'm so impressed and so ecstatic that the state is going to have a state-of-the-art museum,” said Laurie Risch, director of the Behringer-Crawford Museum in Covington, which focuses on Northern Kentucky heritage.

        She has toured parts of the center and is looking forward to seeing its entirety.

        “It's a connection to the rest of the state,” she said. “Some feel ties to Cincinnati, but our culture and history comes from the rest of the state as well.”

        Mary Northington of the Northern Kentucky African-American Heritage Task Force also toured some of the center. “It's very comprehensive. It deals with all areas of the state.”

        Mary Spreher, executive board member of the Campbell County Historical Museum, is pleased that the center could guarantee the preservation of pictures and artifacts. “It is for sure going to be the safeguard of the historical pictures and the memorabilia that has made Kentucky,” she said.

        IF YOU GO

        Admission to the Kentucky History Center will be free. For information on hours of operation, call (502) 564-1792.


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