FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — A new exhibit at the Kentucky Historical Society's Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History is shining a light on the role light has played in the history of the Commonwealth.
"Illuminations" opened to the public Thursday night, making it the first new exhibit to open at the museum since the beginning of the pandemic.
"We've been reflective over the last 20 months," said Scott Alvey, the executive director of the KY Historical Society. "So 'Illuminations' really gives us a chance to reflect back on those subtle changes that have been going on."
The purpose of the exhibit is to "explore the beginning of light in Kentucky, how Kentuckians make it, and its ability to illuminate both space and ideas."
Through artifacts and interactive elements, the exhibit illustrates the importance of natural light, the advent of electricity, and how we use light to both celebrate and mourn.
"The green lights that have burned in Kentuckians' homes are a perfect example of that," said Stuart Sanders, referring to Governor Andy Beshear's request for people to light their homes in remembrance of lives lost to COVID-19.
"We mainly focus on the 19th century as part of this exhibit," Sanders, the director of research and collections said. "But we really bring it up to the 21st century."
The exhibit also shines a light on historic inequities.
"We think about the rural and urban divide now and that happened during the 19th century as well," Sanders said. "So while Louisville was getting electric lights during the 1880's or so, there were other counties in Kentucky that didn't get electricity until the 1940's or the 1950's."
The "Illuminations" exhibit is a feature of downtown Frankfort's "Candlelight Festival" and runs through March 20.