Bluegrass Museum takes Award

The International Bluegrass Music Museum (IBMM) has been named the winner of a special award.

The Owensboro, Kentucky-based IBMM has been honoured with a Kentucky History Award for education for its William Smith ‘Bill’ Monroe Centennial Exhibit, which opened in September 2010.

The exhibition, which continues to be open to visitors into 2012, includes one of Monroe’s stage suits, uncle Pendleton Vandiver’s fiddle, the headstock veneer from Monroe’s 1923 F-5 Lloyd Loar mandolin, Monroe’s 1964 Gibson mandolin, pictures of Monroe and his family through various stages of his life – including performances at the White House – show bills, record album covers and the statue that was presented posthumously when Monroe was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, and has attracted visitors from Brazil, Canada and Europe.

Gabrielle Gray, the Executive Director of the International Bluegrass Music Museum, is delighted with the award ….

“All of us on the museum’s board and staff are pleased to have this recognition, not only for the work we’re doing for the museum we love, but also, and quite especially, for honoring the enormous legacy of Mr. Bill Monroe. We invite you and all who comprise your readership to come to the museum and visit us whenever possible.

The Bill Monroe Centennial Exhibits, of which there are four, will be in place through September 2012. The bulk of the work on this exhibit was done by our curator, Forrest Roberts, who has done amazing work for us since joining the museum in March 2009 – first as a part-time volunteer for eight months (!!) – and later as a member of our staff.

She is an attorney by profession, which knowledge and skill have stood us in good stead in a museum setting, yet she has the creativity and imagination of an artist, which is particularly valuable in a music museum.”

Ms. Gray also thanked Catherine Hayden, Registrar; RaShae Jennings, Archivist; and Demetra Taylor, Assistant, Archivist; Danny Clark, Marketing Director; and Ross Leazenby, Museum Trustee and Chairman of the Exhibits Committee for their work in helping to set up the exhibition.

She adds her thanks to Nick Barr, who “was very helpful with the centennial exhibits. Many thanks to all the Pioneers and Blue Grass Boys who contributed artifacts and information for all four centennial exhibits.”

Forrest Roberts offers her own thoughts on the award ….

“Receiving the award from the Kentucky Historical Society is very gratifying because it is recognition of the museum’s work by an entity outside of the bluegrass community. Many sources contributed to the exhibit, which I think was a factor in receiving the award.

  1. Uncle Pen’s fiddle, was made possible by a generous gift from Terry Woodward, the Chair of the museum’s Board of Directors.
  2. The original headstock from Bill Monroe’s Gibson model F-5 mandolin, is on loan from Laura and John Carter Cash in Nashville, Tennessee.
  3. The Gibson model F-5 “loaner” mandolin the Gibson company gave to Bill Monroe when his primary model F-5 was being repaired in 1980, is on loan from the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville.
  4. There are photographs from the presidential libraries for Presidents Carter, Reagan, G.H.W. Bush, and Clinton, showing Monroe at the White House with each president.
  5. Many other artifacts are from the museum’s collection or on loan from other sources.

All of this shows Bill Monroe was not just a bluegrass artist, but an artist of the world. It also shows how important Bill Monroe is to the history and culture of Kentucky.”

The award from the Kentucky Historical Society will be presented at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History in Frankfort on November 11.

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.