Kentucky Museum highlights folk culture

Jacob Parker

As students return to WKU, some may be checking out the summer exhibit at the Kentucky Museum.

“Documenting Tradition: Images from the Kentucky Folklife Archive” began in June, as part of the ongoing annual photo exhibits of the Kentucky Museum.

After the thousands or so images that make up part of the archive began being housed at the Kentucky Library, the library partnered with the Kentucky Museum and the department of folk studies and anthropology to create the exhibit.

Donna Parker, the exhibit’s curator, said the exhibit was decided about a year in advance. 

“We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to pull some of the images from the collection?’” she said. “So we pulled about 50 images and Jonathan (Jeffrey, manuscripts/folklife archives co-ordinator) did all the research on them.”

The images feature a variety of Kentucky culture throughout the past quarter of a century, although some of the images are altered in saturation to convey the art in the picture. 

“Some of them you wouldn’t think were recent,” Parker said.

Houses in a Shaker village, an unusual bed-shaped grave marker, a hometown barbecue and the process of dry stone masonry are just a few things featured in the pictures in the exhibit.

“My favorite is the picture of the morel mushrooms,” she said of the photo of the 2002 Mountain Mushroom Festival in Irvine.

Since opening, Parker said she’s received positive feedback.

“People have liked it,” she said. “You’ll find an interesting variety. The images are really sort of eclectic.”

The exhibit, now extended by a few weeks, will be at the Kentucky Museum until Oct. 19.