This great museum has a lot to offer even the most casual Bluegrass fan. If you're into any genre of music, by all means visit this gem. The wheelchair-accessible two-story building houses playful yet sophisticated multimedia presentations for all ages. This is a joyous showcase for modern Bluegrass culture that incorporates the history of the genre from an ethnomusicological (is that a real word?) standpoint. Our two kids, ages 6 and 8, eagerly activated each music listening station and literally danced through the exhibits. The "Banjokes" wall allowed them to lift little peekaboo windows to get to some pretty corny punchlines. Who doesn't love that? The mainfloor houses a continuous-loop documentary film as well as a life-size sculptural representation of a typical Bluegrass festival--from workshop to jam session to concert. Upstairs, you'll see a variety of vintage instruments, costumes, photos, and documents that span the decades. (Pete Seeger's banjo, inscribed with the phrase "This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender," was a highlight.) However, the emphasis here is on local legend Bill Monroe and his ever-evolving roster of Bluegrass Boys. Among the many artifacts on display from his long career are "Uncle Pen's Fiddle" and one of his mandolins--holy relics if ever there ever were any. Stop by the Gift Shop to browse the exhaustive collection of music and videos. They also carry a few music supplies like strings, straps, and picks, and the usual souvenir items. (Had to buy the commuter coffe mug--$2.99.) There's an expansion plan in the works for a multi-million dollar move to a bigger facility which will include larger spaces for concerts, classes and broadcasting. We visited on the Friday before Labor Day and found free parking in the structure across the street. In addition, the most magnificent public park lies just steps away right on the river. Porch-swings and bistro tables with a knockout view line the riverwalk. With an enormous, state-of-the-art playground, kiddie spray area, and central fountain, Smothers Park has to be one of the best public spaces I've ever seen--on a par with Millennium Park in Chicago. DEfinitely save room for a stroll. Way to go, Owensboro!
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