- Did you know Abraham Lincoln was the only president also to be a licensed bartender?
- Or glasses with pink lens were used to treat depression during the Civil War? This lead to the expression, “See the World through rose-colored glasses,” still in use today.
“History the way it was meant to be told” is the motto of the Frazier museum. How many times in school did we sit through dry, stuffy lectures explaining the past in the most boring way possible? (In my case, the answer is plenty.) The past is a fascinating journey, with colorful characters, and the Frazier museum brings it to life, spanning continents and thousands of years in a single museum. We began our journey into the past in the Royal Armouries, beginning with a replica of the Battle of Hastings, fought in 1066. The authentic and reproduction weapons, with detailed explanations, fascinated the history buffs in the family. My attention, however, was caught by a museum employee, dressed in a classic British uniform, wheeled out a cart filled with (replicas of) various helmets and chain mail from ancient Rome to the Middle Ages. He answered our questions and allowed us to try on the helmets and chain mail, describing the pros and cons of each piece. Having never tried on chain mail before, I was surprised at how heavy it was. When we were shown the arrow that could pierce through the links in the chain mail, he explained how “one of these arrows could cause us to have a bad day on the battlefield.”
As fascinating as this era was, the American West exhibit had more treasures. Where else can you see the family Bible of the legendary pioneer Daniel Boone or the ivory handled Colt pistols reported to belong to the ill-fated General Custer? Because Jessie James and his gang once rode onto the family farm of one of my ancestors and stayed for dinner, I spent time reading about the gang’s adventures, beginning from their history as a group of raiders during the Civil War and continuing into their crime spree and Jessie Jame’s eventual death. My son was amazed at the poster for the Pony Express, “Young, skinny, wiry fellows wanted. Not over 18. Must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred.” (How’s that for a job description you would not want?)
Before leaving the museum, stop to see the collection of over 10,000 toy soldiers from around the world, making it the largest public display of toy soldiers in the US. There are more than 5000 permanent artifacts housed in the museum, with an ever changing collection of temporary exhibits. We spent three hours at the museum and could have looked for hours longer without being able to examine everything. I wasn’t sure if it would keep younger children entertained, but I was wrong. There were several families with elementary aged children in the museum who were studying the exhibits and asking questions. This museum is one every member of the family will enjoy.
If you go:
- The Frazier Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9 AM to 5 PM and on Sundays from 12 PM to 5 PM.
- The cost of admission is $10.50 for adults, $7.50 for students 14-17, $6 for children ages 6-13 and ages 4 and under are free.
- Be sure to watch for the daily historical interpretations which features demonstrations with employees in period costume
- and “touch carts,” which allow everyone the opportunity to experience hands-on history.
- The Museum is located on West Main Street in Louisville, Kentucky, a short walk from the Galt House Hotel.
We received complementary passes to the Frazier Museum. All opinions are my own.