Learning about Kentucky History in Frankfort


Where can you go in Kentucky to learn about KY history in a hands-on environment? The Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History has been one of our go-to museums over the past 10 years but I’ve never shared this amazing place with you. So recently the family and I took a trip over and went through the museum and also toured the Old Capitol building. Looking for something to do in central Kentucky? A visit to Frankfort may be your next destination!

This post is not sponsored by any organization. It may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own.

Learning about Kentucky History in Frankfort

When we take family road trips we always find museums, landmarks and places to explore so it only makes sense that we expose our kids to the history and culture in our own backyard of Kentucky.

Kentucky History Museum

At the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History you are able to walk through over 12,000 years of Kentucky history and see the progression of culture, trends and society.

When you first enter the building, the first thing you will see is the beautiful staircase and floor map of the state. One classic photo opp that you don’t want to miss is the view from the top of the stairs looking down on to the map.

Explore 12,000 years of Kentucky history in our signature exhibition. “A Kentucky Journey” is divided into eight main areas, chronicling life in Kentucky from prehistoric times to the present:

  • Kentucky’s Early People (10,000 BC-AD 1719)
  • Settling Kentucky (1719-1792)
  • Changing the State of Kentucky (1792-1861)
  • Civil War in Kentucky (1861-1865)
  • Kentucky in the Victorian Age (1865-1900)
  • 20th Century Kentucky (1900-1999)

You start the self-guided tour at an orrery created by Thomas Barlow (1787-1865) and his son, Milton Barlow. This orrery was most likely built in Lexington, Ky.

What is an orrery? An orrery is used to demonstrate the motion of the planets. The term planetarium can also be used. An orrey by definition includes the sun, Earth, Earth’s moon and other planets.

As you proceed through the museum, you will find drawers to open, buttons to push and even QR codes you can scan for an interactive experience.

Scan QR Code for a more interactive experience

You walk through time and see how Kentucky was affected by the events in history. What would you keep and what you would leave behind if you were traveling by boat or across land?

Exploration by Land and Sea

…and on through the Victorian Era

Kentucky in the Victorian Era

The drawers are very easy to open, but that didn’t stop my son from acting like it was a real chore to pull out the drawer with all this silver tableware.

Listen to the sound of President Lincoln’s pocketwatch as recorded for the movie Lincoln. Haven’t seen the movie? Check it out this weekend on Amazon.com

Listen to the ticking of Abraham Lincoln’s pocketwatch!

Hall of Governor’s

Make sure you take the time to visit the Hall of Governors and get an opportunity to post on the wall telling what you would do if you were serving as Governor!

Things to Know:

  • Admission to the KY Historical Society will also give you admission to the Old State Capitol Building and KY Military museum (depending on available hours)
  • You can spend quite a bit of time here, but about 2 hours will get you through the highlights of the KY History Museum.
  • You are allowed to take pictures with no flash on your visit.
  • Children will enjoy the museum because of the interactive options.

If you are a Kentuckian or have traveled in Kentucky, you may want to pick up these great Kentucky scrapbook supplies to help you preserve your favorite memories.

Connect with KY Historical Society

100 W Broadway St, Frankfort, KY 40601
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Looking for more Kentucky resources?

Have you ever been to the KY History Museum? What is your favorite part? I’d love to hear!

Want more fun FREE things to do in Frankfort? Check out this list!

free things to do in frankort ky
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