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Speed Art Museum Exterior, Louisville, Kentucky
Photo by Stan Ries

The Speed Art Museum of Louisville

Louisville, Kentucky

Written by Julie Greiner
The Speed Art Museum is located at 2035 South Third Street, Louisville. The focus of the collection is Western art, from antiquity to the present day. The Speed Art Museum is presently celebrating its 75th anniversary and its impressive collection of over 12,000 pieces, more than 180,000 visitors each year, its hands-on Art Learning Center and being a nationally recognized institution. There are holdings of paintings from the Netherlands, French and Italian works and contemporary art with Sculpture prominent throughout. Representative artists include: Rembrandt van Rijn, Peter Paul Rubens, Giovanni Tiepolo, Henry Moore, Thoams Gainsborough, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, and
contemporary artists Frank Stella, Helen Frankenthaler, Sam Francis, Petah Coyne, Sam Gilliam, Vito Acconci and Juan Munoz.

History of The Speed Art Museum of Louisville

The Museum was originally known as the J.B. Speed Memorial Museum and later as The J.B. Speed Art Museum. The Museum is Kentucky's oldest and largest art museum and it was founded in 1925 by Hattie Bishop Speed as a memorial to her husband, James Breckinridge Speed, a prominent Louisville businessman and philanthropist. The building was designed by Louisville architect Arthur Loomis and it opened its doors in 1927 with
Pablo Picasso, 1956, Femme Dans L'Atelier (Jacqueline Rogue)
Photo by Kenneth Hayden, 1998
an exhibition sponsored by the Louisville Art Association. Over a hundred American and European painters were represented and nearly two thousand visitors attuned the grand opening in 1927. The museum was closed for a dramatic renovation project in 1996, at which time the museum received a life-changing gift of more than $50 million from Alice Speed Stoll, granddaughter of James Breckinridge Speed.

Today's Speed Museum of Louisville

Seventy-five years later, the Speed Museum is now five times the size of the original museum. The collection has grown to more than 13,000 works of art and the museum has added three different structures. In 1954 the
first addition was added to house Dr. Preston Pope Satterwhite's collection of fifteenth and sixteenth century French and Italian Decorative Arts. There is now an auditorium, offices,library, indoor sculpture court and a gallery for permanent collections and special exhibitions.

Diamond Anniversary Celebration Exhibits

A Brush with History: Paintings from the National Portrait Gallery, a Bountiful Plenty from the Shelburne Museum; Folk Art Traditions in american, Masterworks from the Albertina and closing the year with the blockbuster exhibition, Millet to Matisee: Nineteenth and Twentieth-Century French Painting from Klvingove Art Gallery, Glasgow, Scotland.
Students Participating at the Hands-On Art Learning Center at the Speed Art Museum
Photo by John Nation, 1999

The Speed Art Museum features a hands-on Art Learning Center for families, a cafe and a gift Shop. The gallery is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10:30 a.m.to 4:00 p.m.; Thursday 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday 12:00 to 5:00 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays. For general information, call (502) 634-2700.

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Last Updated: September 23, 2015