Department of Tourism
Bluegrass Museum Is Mecca for Lovers of Kentucky's Music
OWENSBORO, Ky. – ROMP (River of Music Party) is only the tip of the iceberg at the International Bluegrass Music Museum.
ROMP, being held June 21-23 at the museum, Yellow Creek Park and the RiverPark Center in Owensboro, is a giant bluegrass festival celebrated yearly during the last weekend in June. While ROMP, now in its fourth year, is one of the museum’s most visible endeavors, the institution’s exhibits are a treasure trove that will fascinate anyone interested in Kentucky’s indigenous music.
The museum is also responsible for programs ranging from Bluegrass in the Schools to Radio Bluegrass International, a 24/7internet radio station. Among the museum’s many other programs is the Video Oral History Project, which has recorded interviews with more than 130 of bluegrass music’s originators. Bluegrass in the Schools provides hands-on instruction, free instruments and national acts in assembly performances. The Kentucky Bluegrass All Stars Lessons Program offers professional bluegrass music instructors to teach group classes at the museum.
The Library /Archive Project is documenting all IBMM collections and artifacts to create a database for bluegrass fans, musicians and musicologists. The Monroe-Style Mandolin Camp is an intensive three-day hands-on study of Monroe’s unique style of playing. Radio Bluegrass International, launched May 1, is fast developing a listenership of bluegrass enthusiasts around the world.
Located at 117 Daviess St. in Owensboro, the museum has both permanent and changing exhibits focusing on the bluegrass community, its festivals, concerts and events. Included in the museum’s permanent collection are:
International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) Hall of Honor. IBMA’s Hall of Honor is an institution devoted to the recognition of noteworthy individuals for their outstanding contributions to bluegrass music. Founded in 1991, the Hall of Honor is the bluegrass music industry's tribute to the pioneers of the music and the people who have made it great.
Big Mon. Located on the first floor of the museum, this exhibit tells the story of Bill Monroe, the Father of Bluegrass Music. In addition to items from his estate, you can learn about Monroe’s early years and how he came to create this music.
The Timeline of Bluegrass Music. This exhibit is located above the showcase of historically significant bluegrass instruments on the second floor. The timeline follows the roots of bluegrass music, from the Scots-Irish string bands to camp meetings and gospel quartets, through fiddling conventions, the jazz era, and the folk music revival.
The Instruments. A variety of instruments are available for viewing throughout the museum, including a showcase of historically significant instruments and the luthiers who crafted them. There are also instruments available for careful handling, which are located on the “main stage” on the first floor of the museum.
The Café. Used as gig space with a great hardwood floor for cloggers, the café is a replica from the 1950s and includes a jukebox featuring traditional and contemporary bluegrass songs.
For more information about IBMM, contact Gabrielle Gray, executive director, or Mike Lawing at 270-926-7891 or 888-MY-BANJO or visit www.bluegrass-museum.org.
The Kentucky Department of Tourism, an agency of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet, exists to promote The Commonwealth as a travel destination, generate revenue and create jobs for Kentucky’s economy.