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International Museum of the Horse Announces Smithsonian Affiliation

LEXINGTON, KY --- The Kentucky Horse Park’s International Museum of the Horse learned this week that it has been approved to become a new affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. Smithsonian Affiliations is a unique outreach initiative that allows museums and educational and cultural institutions to obtain Smithsonian collections for exhibition.  The program’s mission is to make the extensive Smithsonian collection more accessible to the American people by sharing artifacts and other resources with museums and cultural institutions across the country.


In addition to artifact loans, the Smithsonian helps affiliate organizations identify other Smithsonian resources to accompany exhibit loans: education and performing arts programs, expert speakers, teacher workshops, and technical assistance.  Smithsonian Affiliates also receive access to professional development workshops and research opportunities for staff, and internships for students in affiliate communities.  


“This is a wonderful honor for our museum,” noted park executive director, John Nicholson. “Having the opportunity to access the collections of the Smithsonian will be a tremendous asset in raising the International Museum of the Horse to an even higher standard prior to hosting the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in 2010.”


The Smithsonian considers proposals from institutions whose missions are parallel to the Smithsonian’s and who demonstrate a strong commitment to serving their communities.  Since 1996, Affiliate museums have borrowed more than 7,000 artifacts from the Smithsonian collections.


The museum’s director, Bill Cooke stated: “Being accepted as an affiliate by an organization as prestigious as the Smithsonian Institution is a true watershed event for the International Museum of the Horse.  This partnership will open doors for us to expand our interpretation of the relationship between horse and man by incorporating both art and artifacts form the nation’s preeminent museum into our exhibits.  At the same time, it will allow our staff to develop their knowledge and skills under the guidance of some of the nation’s finest museum professionals.  We are very honored to receive this designation.”


The goal of Smithsonian Affiliations is to establish long term, meaningful relationships with similar organizations in order to maximize the cultural and educational benefits that they can bring to a community.  Its success is reflected in visitor numbers:


¨        2005 estimates indicate that more than 20.6 million people visited Smithsonian affiliate museums and gained exposure to the Smithsonian through programs, performances, events, media recognition and business initiatives.  More than 7.5 million visitors saw Smithsonian artifacts at affiliate venues.


¨        Attendance at some affiliate museums increased as much as 37 percent as a result of loaned Smithsonian collections.


“Today, Smithsonian Affiliations is doing more than sharing its treasures,” said Harold A. Closter, director of Smithsonian Affiliations.  “We are building relationships with people in neighborhoods coast to coast, ensuring that all Americans can enjoy a quality Smithsonian experience, regardless of their proximity to Washington, D.C.   The International Museum of the Horse is one of America's great treasures.  Their commitment to education and the display of world class exhibits enriches our understanding of the unbreakable link between horses and humankind.  We are very proud to establish this affiliate partnership between the International Museum of the Horse and the Smithsonian Institution and look forward to an exciting exchange of artifacts, programs and ideas.”


      For more information on the Smithsonian Affiliations, click on  For more information on the International Museum of the Horse, click on  To speak with Museum Director Bill Cooke, call 859-259-4231 ext 231 or email


Park Hours and Rates: From March 15-October 31, the park is open seven days a week.  Admission is $15 for adults, $8 for children 7-12.  Children six and under are always admitted free of charge.  Admission includes the International Museum of the Horse and the American Saddlebred Museum.



The Kentucky Horse Park is a working horse farm/theme park and equine competition facility dedicated to man’s relationship with the horse.  The park is an agency of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet that hosted nearly 900,000 visitors and 15,000 competition horses in more than 100 special events and horse shows in 2005.  The park is located at Exit 120, Interstate 75, just north of LexingtonThe place to get close to horses, the park is open daily March 15 to October 31, and Wednesday through Sunday, November 1 to March 14.


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