Kentucky’s culture and history make it a one-of-a kind destination for meetings. For proof, look no further than the state’s museums.
Groups can hold meetings or after-hours events at many distinctive institutions around the state. Check out these venues showcasing Kentucky music, classic cars, natural resources and more.
Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum
The Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum details the evolution of bluegrass music and the other musical genres that influenced it, including gospel, jazz and blues. The museum includes exhibits about the dawn of the bluegrass era, which follows the stories of bluegrass pioneers Bill Monroe and Flatt and Scruggs. The Starving Out exhibit discusses the rise of rock ’n’ roll in the 1950s that began to steal market share from other musical genres and how bluegrass artists managed to survive in spite of it.
The 1960s and 1970s were famous for their bluegrass festivals that helped energize the industry and create new styles of bluegrass, such as California bluegrass, jam grass and new grass. On the second floor of the building, view a video history and tour temporary exhibits. A temporary Jerry Garcia exhibit will open in 2024.
Meeting planners wanting to host events at the museum can utilize the 447-seat Woodward Theatre for presentations or awards ceremonies. Exhibit spaces and the lobby can be rented out for a more immersive experience, and the facility has a festival stage for intimate gatherings. The second-floor Gallery Room can accommodate 100 people, while the third-floor Independence Bank Event Room can host groups of up to 250.
National Corvette Museum
The National Corvette Museum is chock-full of nostalgia, with beautifully restored Corvettes placed among street scenes: in front of a Mobil service station, in a 1960s Chevrolet dealer showroom and at a St. Louis assembly plant.
The museum recently opened a family education gallery geared toward the younger generation of Corvette enthusiasts, and the E. Pierce Marshall Memorial Performance Gallery features digital projection, interactive touch screens and artifact display cases set among beautiful Corvettes from different generations.
The museum has an 8,297-square-foot meeting facility with a prep kitchen, stage with lighting, bar area and outdoor covered display space that can accommodate 500 for a banquet. Corvette Boulevard is perfect for a reception, trade-show booths or conference center overflow. It can host 200 for a banquet. Groups that rent out space in the museum can add a self-guided or guided tour of the museum. For $50 per person, the next-door General Motors plant offers a combo ticket that includes a 90-minute tour of the GM plant and self-guided access to the museum.
Groups can rent out the Corvette Simulator or order merchandise from the store at a discount. Stingray Grill can cater events held at the museum, or groups can bring in outside vendors. Bar services are provided by NCM Motorsports Park. The museum also partners with Motorsports Park for Corvette experiences and Karting.
South Union Shaker Village
Between 1807 and 1922, a communal religious sect called the Shakers built a village with over 200 buildings, including dormitories, shops, barns, stables and a mill complex. The group espoused equality, pacifism and simple living. They also produced and sold products throughout the South until declining membership and economic problems after the Civil War led to the closing of the South Union community.
In the 1950s, a woman named Curry Hall decided to preserve Shaker history and began collecting Shaker furniture. Her collection got so large, she decided to open a museum in 1960. A nonprofit organization was formed to promote Shaker heritage and now maintains and interprets nine original Shaker structures on nearly 500 acres of farmland.
The Village welcomes groups of all kinds for meetings and private events. There are indoor spaces in several buildings, including the South Union Hotel, which was built in 1869 to cater to Victorian railroad travelers who stopped at South Union. The hotel has three dining rooms, an enclosed sun porch and a large catering kitchen that can accommodate 60 people. The meeting room of the 1824 Centre House is where the Shakers held worship services. It is a large open space that can host groups of 50 to 60.
Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and Museum
The Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and Museum opened in 2002 with its first class of inductees. The entrance to the museum was built in 1945 as the original riding stables of John Lair, founder of Renfro Valley Entertainment Center. The museum is next to the Renfro Valley concert venue, and its exhibits pay tribute to the famous musicians and professional songwriters in all musical genres who have influenced Kentucky’s musical heritage. They feature clothing worn by famous artists, musical instruments, memorabilia and photographs of the artists who have been inducted into the hall of fame.
A timeline shows how different musical genres got their start in Kentucky, and visitors even have a chance to try out different musical instruments.
Visitors enjoy learning about the likes of Kentuckians Loretta Lynn, Ricky Skaggs, Bill Monroe and Brian Littrell and Kevin Richardson of the Backstreet Boys. Recent inductees include Carly Pearce, Pete Goble, Tommy White and Norah Lee Allen.
The museum hosts events in its lobby for 75 to 100 guests or in a conference room that can accommodate groups of 50 or fewer. The museum provides tables and chairs, and groups can arrange to have food catered by local restaurants.
An outdoor amphitheater behind the museum features a stage and is a great space for weddings, concerts or receptions of about 200 people. Groups can also rent the field behind John Lair House or the field in front of Aunt Polly Cabin.
Inland Waterways Museum
River Discovery Center in Paducah recently rebranded as the Inland Waterways Museum. Located in a former bank building, which is considered the oldest building in the city, the museum was first developed to showcase the maritime history of the Four Rivers Region. Paducah is at the hub of several inland waterways, and the museum teaches visitors about the rivers and how they affect the lives of those who live along them. It also encourages guests to be responsible citizens and conserve the natural resources connected to the waterways.
Exhibits touch upon the wildlife, plants and people who make the inland waterways their home. A favorite exhibit is the boat simulator, an audio-visual experience where guests can captain a speed boat, towboat or Coast Guard vessel in a variety of scenarios. Captains will feel the vibration and hear the sounds of the boat they choose.
Groups hosting events at the museum can decide if they want to add on a short program about the museum and the historic building or just wander the exhibits and gift shop as part of their gathering.
The Founders Room upstairs has a beautiful view of the confluence of the Tennessee and Ohio rivers. The room has been wonderfully restored to its original glory, with wooden floors, window and door frames, fireplaces and an elegant staircase. The space can hold 50 to 75 people with seating or 125 for a standing reception.