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Renovated Kentucky Military History Museum reopens


Courtesy Kentucky Historical Society

FRANKFORT, Ky.  — The Kentucky Military History Museum at the State Arsenal, which reopened to the public Nov. 11 after being closed for nearly four years for renovations, focuses on telling the story of Kentuckians who fought in battles spanning nearly 200 years, from the War of 1812 to more recent engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The newly installed “Kentucky Military Treasures” features numerous artifacts such as experimental Civil War weapons, a World War I soldier’s sewing kit, a World War II army doctor’s medical bag and a Vietnam-era draft card.

“There are lots of interesting stories of Kentuckians who have fought,” said Lisa Cleveland, public relations director for the Kentucky Historical Society, which operates the museum along with the Kentucky Department of Military Affairs. “For example, there is a highly decorated War of 1812 drum and the story that goes along with it.”

The interior renovation included an upgrade to the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system; masonry repair; removal of iron bars that had been added to the building in the 1920s; and restoring wood floors.

“They took the interior back to its original appearance, as much as possible, in the 1850s,” said Cleveland. “The building is just a gem, you get a sense of the history that has taken place there.”

Constructed in 1850, the State Arsenal is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Before becoming the Kentucky Military History Museum in 1974, the building had been used as a storage facility and as a warehouse for the Kentucky State Guard’s military equipment and munitions.

Early next year and into 2013, attention will turn to the exterior. The building will be returned to its original gray color, and shutters will be returned to the building, as will a large flagpole that was once situated on the roof.