Kentucky 3.0: Symposium Explores Lexington, Louisville, Frankfort, Paris, and Georgetown

Apr 27, 2022

The Decorative Arts Trust was thrilled to finally make it to Kentucky for our Spring Symposium! Planning for the Decorative Arts Trust’s Symposium in Kentucky began in February 2019, and at that time we assumed we would host this event in spring of 2020. The program was postponed from April 2020 to April 2021 and then again to April 2022, so we were excited to experience Kentucky’s rich history and material culture!

Touring Louisville’s Treasures

Pre-Symposium Tours on April 6 and 7 featured Walnut Groves Farm, the Speed Museum of Art, and the Filson Historical Society and its Ferguson Mansion. Members also enjoyed the Seelbach Hotel’s Rathskeller, Gideon Shryock’s Jefferson County Courthouse, Conrad-Caldwell House, Gardencourt in Cherokee Park, Lincliff overlooking the Ohio River, Locust Grove, and a private collection.

The Symposium Begins

The main Spring 2022 Symposium kicked off at the Blue Grass Trust’s Thomas Hunt-Morgan House, where Decorative Arts Trust Executive Director Matthew A. Thurlow and longtime Board Governor Bruce Perkins introduced a crowd-pleasing lecture by Estill Curtis Pennington, who graciously answered questions about his book during the opening reception and bourbon tasting. Symposium sponsor Brunk Auctions exhibited a fabulous collection of Henry Lawrence Faulkner’s paintings, to be offered in May and July of 2022, and speaker and author Mel Hankla provided an eclectic display of iconic Kentucky objects.

The first full day of the main Symposium, Friday, April 8, began with three invigorating lectures at the Hunt-Morgan House. Patrick Lee Lucas presented a talk about central Kentucky’s built environment, James Birchfield spoke about Henry Clay’s architecture and decorative arts, and Patrick Snadon analyzed Benjamin Henry Latrobe’s Pope Villa. After lunch at the nearby Carnegie Center building, members toured Pope Villa, Elley Villa, Ashland, and Hopemont. 

Saturday’s events included a lecture about Kentucky’s material culture icons with Mel Hankla and a “gallop” into early Kentucky furniture with Mack Cox. Afternoon tours took members to Frankfort to experience the Old Capitol, Liberty Hall, the Orlando Brown House, the Old Governor’s Mansion, and the Giltner-Holt House, or to Georgetown and Paris to visit Ward Hall, Duncan Tavern, Kiser Station, and Buknore.

The Symposium concluded on Sunday morning, with three outstanding lectures. Tommy Hines spoke about the Kentucky Shakers, Erica Lome gave the John A.H. Sweeney Emerging Scholar Lecture about cabinetmaker Milton Paul, and Daniel Ackermann presented the Jonathan L. Fairbanks Lecture about the cabriole-legged furniture of Mason County.

Sunday Tours Highlight Shaker Craftsmanship and Private Collections

The fun continued with a Post-Symposium Tour on Sunday afternoon. Members traveled to the Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill, Traveler’s Rest, and the home of Sharon and Mack Cox.

Overall, the excitement at finally making our way to Kentucky was palpable during our adventures. Many members are already planning for future Decorative Arts Trust symposia and other upcoming events. Our symposia sell out quickly, and members at the Ambassador level and above receive exclusive pre-registration for all events. We hope to see you soon at a future program! 

About The Decorative Arts Trust Bulletin

Formerly known as the "blog,” the Bulletin features new research and scholarship, travelogues, book reviews, and museum and gallery exhibitions. The Bulletin complements The Magazine of the Decorative Arts Trust, our biannual members publication.


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