Pennyroyal Area Museum

A museum in rural West Kentucky was the stereotype of an “old white guy’s museum.” Despite its being in a community 50% African American, one could visit the local museum and leave not knowing that slavery had even existed. where in fact plantations in this region enslaved more people per capita prior to the Civil War than many regions in the deep South. The board hired a new director and she set about to make this important community gem a more inclusive history museum.

Flutter & Wow joined the renovation team and proceeded to redesign the entirety of the Pennyroyal Area Museum, top to bottom. We focused on community engagement and bringing balance to the telling of local history. We added interactivity and whimsy to the museum. We leveraged resources to make the most of the make-over. But mostly, we focused on the one-of-a-kind —  frequently eccentric, often baroque — stories that make Hopkinsville, Kentucky one of America’s more interesting crossroads.

Exhibits forefront a rich local women’s history, and unique natural history, a culture of music and literature, and a weird and wonderful paranormal history. Famed psychic Edgar Cayce was born here and one the most famous UFO encounters occurred here. This region — also known as “the Black Patch,” for its world-famous tobacco variety — was ground zero for one of the hottest and bloodiest early 20th Century battles between the working class and monopolistic corporations: the Tobacco Wars. Topics from domestic terror to agriculture to economics to politics overlap in a story climaxing with Night Riders laying a fiery siege on the city of Hopkinsville.

Our overarching concept was to present the amazing stories, display lots of amazing photos and artifacts, make history interactive, and allow museum visitors to participate in the telling of history —  to make a more inclusive and accessible history museum. Exhibits appeal to all senses, all learning styles, and all points of view, and allow for feedback. The photos a guest sees represent the diversity of the local community. The stories come from all walks of life. The heroes that are celebrated come from every neighborhood.