Sitting on a visually prominent lot that for years was an unsightly state government office building, the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum is the latest downtown jewel of Owensboro, Kentucky.

Private donors, local government and state government combined to fund the $15.3 million attraction. The grand opening weekend is Oct. 18-20.

This weekend features an invitation-only event on Oct. 18. Sam Bush is performing on Oct. 19 in Woodward Theatre, and that show is sold out.

At noon on Oct. 20, the museum will open its doors to the public. The outdoor stage will have live museum from 1 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Downtown Owensboro streets will be closed and lined with food vendors.

“It’s going to be a downtown festival,” said Chris Joslin, the museum’s executive director.

Inside the museum, the first-floor exhibit area traces the roots of bluegrass in America and throughout the world, and the second-floor Hall of Fame honors dozens of bluegrass greats..

In addition to the Woodward Theatre, a 447-seat state-of-the-art performance venue, the museum also features an outdoor stage and private event spaces.

Owensboro’s newest development is steps away from the city’s convention center, Smothers Park, restaurants, a Hampton Inn & Suites and Holiday Inn, all of which have been part of the area’s revival.

“I stress to people, I think the value in this is not necessarily the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum as a stand-alone, but when you put it together with everything else in downtown, it creates even more momentum,” said Chris Joslin, the museum’s executive director. “We’re part of that strategy to try to attract people to Owensboro and have them stay a day or two.”

The new facility is twice as large as the former International Bluegrass Music Museum, which opened in 1991 and is now closed. It was hampered by a lack of performance venues or event capabilities.

“For institutions like this to be sustainable, you have to have multiple ways for people to engage. It has to be very dynamic,” Joslin said. “In bluegrass, there is a lot of energy around live music.”

The museum will have performers “on a regular basis,” Joslin said, starting with the grand opening and lasting through the facility’s first 60-90 days.

For more information about the grand opening and other upcoming events, visit



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