February 8, 2008 -- The Purebred Arabian Horse Trust will soon begin construction of an 8,000 square foot addition to the Kentucky Horse Park's International Museum of the Horse. Ground breaking for the project, funded totally by the Trust and the American Arabian horse community, is anticipated by April 1. 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 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.
"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.
Arabian horse organizations supporting the project include the Arabian Horse Owners Foundation (AHOF), the Arabian Horse Trust (AHT), the Arabian Horse Association (AHA), Arabian Breeders Association (ABA), Arabian Professional & Amateur Horsemen's Association and the Purebred Arabian Trust (PAT).
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," said Howard Pike, a long-time supporter of creating meaningful educational opportunities for the public to know the Arabian horse.
In recognition of the major contributions made years ago to the Arabian Horse Center in Westminster, Colo., the trustees of the Purebred Arabian Trust have committed to provide a transition of the Denver building value, with substantial additional funds contributed by the PAT to fully fund construction of the Arabian Horse Galleries.
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 Trustees of the Arabian Horse Trust have provided the funds required to transition the collections of both the Arabian Horse Trust and the Arabian Horse Owners Foundation to their new home. A capital campaign to fund exhibit planning and construction for the interior of the Galleries will begin in April 2008.
"We are thrilled by the generous support shown by the Purebred Arabian Horse Trust, the Arabian Horse Owners' Association, 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 first 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.