Kentucky Horse Park
Once-in-a-Lifetime Major International Exhibition Open for Group and School Tours in 2010

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, January 06, 2010  
Contact Information:  Cindy Rullman, 859-259-4209 ext 209,  

            LEXINGTON, KY (January 6, 2010)  The largest and most comprehensive collection of exotic Arabian equine art and artifacts ever assembled will be on view to group tours when A Gift from the Desert: The Art, History and Culture of the Arabian Horse is presented next summer, May 29-October 15, 2010 in the Kentucky Horse Park’s International Museum of the Horse – a Smithsonian Affiliate.

            This breathtaking exhibition, presented by the Saudi Arabian Equestrian Federation, has already been named one of the American Bus Assocation's (ABA) Top 100 Events for 2010.  It will feature 410 artifacts and works of art from 26 museums and private lenders including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the British Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Oxford University, Ashmolean Museum, Egyptian Museum of Cairo, Carnegie Museum of Art, National Museum of Warsaw, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, American Museum of Natural History, and many others.

            Among the priceless works of art and artifacts in A Gift from the Desert are the Standard of Ur (circa 2,600 BCE), the first depiction of equine driving, and the Kikkuli tablet, the world’s earliest known treatise on horse care and training from the Hittite civilization. 

            Some items are expected to be particularly popular with group tour visitors, including the robes and dagger used by T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) in his famous march across the desert, an outstanding collection of Orientalist paintings depicting Near Eastern life and equestrian culture, early depictions of the earliest Arabian-type horses from Egypt’s New Kingdom, and a stunning selection of saddles, tack, armor and arms (many bejeweled), from the Ottoman Empire.

This will be the third international blockbuster exhibition at the International Museum of the Horse* and is expected to draw 500,000 visitors.  It will be on exhibit during the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games at the park – the largest sporting event in the United States in 2010, to attend as the cultural heart of the games for hundreds of thousands of national and international visitors.

A Gift from the Desert: The Art, History and Culture of the Arabian Horse will be the first major exhibition to explore the impact of the horse on Near Eastern civilization, with particular emphasis on the Arabian horse, the first breed.  It will concentrate on the Near East, covering the modern states of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Yemen, Kuwait, Bahrain, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Algeria, Turkey, India and Iran.  It will begin with the arrival of the first horses in the Near East and culminate in the spread of the Arabian breed throughout the world and the renaissance of purebred breeding in its ancestral homelands today. 

A Gift from the Desert is one of Kentucky’s two biggest events in 2010, alongside the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, and one of the most prestigious art events in North America.

John Nicholson, executive director of the Kentucky Horse Park noted, "Considering the inexpressible beauty of the Arabian horse and the rich and ancient culture surrounding it, it’s easy to understand why we are so excited and extremely pleased and proud to develop and offer this exhibition to the world."

For group tour information, contact Ali Mihankhah, 859-259-4225 or   A number of group tour opportunities are available including separate or combined tickets for the exhibition and the Kentucky Horse Park, as well as VIP evening tours with dinner.

For information on the exhibition or the museum, contact the International Museum of the Horse, 859-259-4232 or go to  

            EDITOR'S NOTE:  High resolution photos of pieces in this exhibition are available for use with this release in your publication by emailing

*Other blockbuster exhibitions in the International Museum of the Horse were Imperial China: The Art of the Horse in Chinese History in 2000 and All the Queen's Horses: The Role of the Horse in British History in 2003.



The Kentucky Horse Park is a working horse farm/theme park and equine competition facility dedicated to man’s relationship with the horse.  The park is an agency of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet that hosted nearly 900,000 visitors and campers, as well as 15,000 competition horses in more than 100 special events and horse shows in 2008.  The park is home to the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games and the National Horse Center which comprises more than 30 national and regional equine organizations.   Located at Exit 120, Interstate 75, just north of Lexington, the Kentucky Horse Park is The place to get close to horses.   Open daily March 15 to October 31, and Wednesday through Sunday, November 1 to March 14.