Miniatures Play Big at Kentucky Gateway Museum Center

Strategy: Enhance Your Product, Know Your Customer/Product

Type of attraction: Museum/Historic Site

Summary: The Kentucky Gateway Museum Center serves three important functions. The first is preserving and making available to researchers a large archival collection documenting Kentucky’s history.

The Kentucky Gateway Museum Center serves three important functions. The first is preserving and making available to researchers a large archival collection documenting Kentucky’s history. “Many early settlers were second sons of Virginians,” notes Lynn David, visitor services and communications director. “They were well educated, and they started record-keeping immediately. They were the biggest packrats anywhere, and we have all those records.”

A second role of the museum is exhibits which include depicting the region’s history, displaying a fine art collection and mounting changing exhibits ranging from the area’s basketball history to exhibits which expose students to new ideas and activities while supporting Kentucky educational objectives.

It is the third part of the museum’s mission that often surprises and delights visitors – a collection of thousands of miniature structures featuring limited edition or one-of-a-kind homes, including everything from mansions to apartments. The collection was donated to the museum by the owner who had spent 32 years assembling it. Museum staff are fascinated with the delight visitors take in the collection. “Until we got it, we didn’t realize it was such a strong pull,” says David.

With that realization, the museum’s staff has worked to capitalize on this unique collection by targeting the niche miniatures market in addition to the general public. “We have had feature stories in every miniatures magazine in the United States and even in France,” says David. “The Kentucky Tourism Department brought in travel writers and we got articles in Michigan, Florida, Ohio and other states.”

The museum’s collection drew the attention of the International Guild of Miniature Artisans which held classes at the museum for beginner and experienced miniaturists. Working with the museums’ curatorial staffs and Guild instructors, Guild member studied specific masterworks and related exhibits and designed challenging classes for students who learned to create miniature replicas of full-sized objects from the museums’ collections. The event included special tours of the museum as well as tours of historic Maysville. For more information, contact Lynn David at communications@kygmc.org or visit www.kentuckygatewaymuseumcenter.org.