August 18, 2008 -- The Purebred Arabian Trust has begun construction of an 8,000 square foot addition to the Kentucky Horse Park's International Museum of the Horse in Lexington, called the Arabian Horse Galleries. It will be the first major addition to the 52,000 square foot museum since its opening in 1978, and will expand its permanent exhibition space by nearly 30 percent.
As part of the donation, the museum will also receive the outstanding collection of art, artifacts and library and archival material from the Arabian Horse Trust (unique from the Purebred Arabian Trust) and an equally significant collection of art and artifacts from the Arabian Horse Owners Foundation. The new Arabian Horse Galleries are expected to open in the summer of 2009, in time for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
"With all of the incredible things that have happened at the park over the past few years, this has to rank as one of the most significant. This wonderful donation undoubtedly solidifies the park's International Museum of the Horse as the finest equestrian museum in the world. We are indeed grateful to the Arabian horse community for this extraordinary and historic undertaking," said John Nicholson, executive director of the Kentucky Horse Park. "The International Museum of the Horse is an integral part of this park and a cornerstone of our educational mission. We are privileged and honored to be the vehicle through which the magnificent stories of the horse in the Near East and the Arabian horse can be shared with our many visitors."
The new galleries will feature state-of-the-art exhibit design and will utilize an array of interactive exhibits to engage all visitors, especially children and young adults. They will tell the story of the arrival of the first horses in the Near East and the evolution of the Arabian horse from the earliest times through the present day. The storyline and concept development will include the efforts of International Museum of the Horse staff, world-renowned experts in equestrian history and museum design and knowledgeable individuals from the Arabian community.
"The exhibits within the Arabian Horse Galleries will be a combination of high historical accuracy and a 'Disneyland' type of magic," says Evie Tubbs, project manager of the Arabian Horse Galleries, "because this combination of elements has embodied the Arabian horse throughout the ages, as the Galleries will show. It will be a mesmerizing experience for both children and adults."
Arabian horse organizations supporting the project include the Arabian Horse Owners Foundation, the Arabian Horse Trust, the Arabian Horse Association, Arabian Breeders Association, Arabian Professional & Amateur Horsemen's Association, Arabian Horse Breeders Alliance, World Arabian Horse Organization, Arabian Horse Times magazine, Arabian Horse World magazine, Arabian Jockey Club, Arabian Racing Cup and the Purebred Arabian Trust. Its universal endorsement in the Arabian horse community is unprecedented.
The Purebred Arabian Trust conceived, developed and funded this project over the past several years. "Joining with the Kentucky Horse Park's International Museum of the Horse has provided us with the unique opportunity to share our passion for the Arabian horse," says Howard Pike, co-chairman of the Arabian Horse Galleries project and a long time supporter of creating meaningful educational opportunities for the public to know the Arabian horse.
Construction is being fully funded by the Purebred Arabian Trust, and the interior of the Arabian Horse Galleries (exhibit design and fabrication) will be funded by a capital campaign within the Arabian horse community. The total project costs are estimated at about $8 million.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear stated, "We are gratified that the Purebred Arabian Horse Trust has selected the Kentucky Horse Park's International Museum of the Horse to house their permanent galleries. Their generous donation reflects yet again how our Horse Park has moved, and continues to move, to an international stage. It also provides an excellent example of how great things can be accomplished when the public and private sectors work together."
The two shipments of art and artifact from the Arabian Horse Trust were unloaded at the Kentucky Horse Park in February, followed by groundbreaking in April, and the beginning of exhibit design in May.
"We are thrilled by the generous support shown by the Purebred Arabian Trust, the Arabian Horse Owners Foundation, the Arabian Horse Trust and the Arabian horse community in funding this new addition to our museum," said Bill Cooke, director of the International Museum of the Horse. "Without a doubt, this project represents the most significant event in our 30 year history."
As an added attraction, from June 1 through the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in 2010, a special exhibit, "A Gift from the Desert: The Art, History and Culture of the Arabian Horse" will be featured in the museum's changing galleries. Following the museum's previous international exhibitions, "Imperial China and All the Queen's Horses," "A Gift from the Desert" will be the most comprehensive exploration ever of the significance of the horse, and particularly the Arabian horse, on Near Eastern cultures ever.
The International Museum of the Horse is an affiliate museum of the Smithsonian Institution.