The primary mission of the Wrather West Kentucky Museum is to highlight and promote an understanding of the social, cultural and economic development of West Kentucky and the Jackson Purchase. Acquisitions, exhibits and special programs support this mission. Both permanent and changing exhibits are open to the public at no charge.
Wrather Hall was the first permanent building constructed on the campus of Murray State in 1924. In the early years of the university, the building was used for campus classes, chapel, pep rallies, debates and plays; it also housed the bookstore, post office, a dining room, science laboratories and the administrative offices. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 18, 1975. Shortly after that, the facility was extensively renovated and dedicated as the Wrather West Kentucky Museum. It opened as the museum on September 22, 1982.
We're proud to announce that, thanks to our good friends at Kentucky Humanities, Wrather Museum will be hosting the Smithsonian traveling exhibit "Voices and Votes: Democracy in America" in April 2021. Our last collaboration, "Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America" was a great success back in the fall of 2018 and we can't wait to offer the community another Smithsonian experience.
So, covid... at present it's really anyone's guess what the world will look like in the spring of 2021 when Voices and Votes comes to town. In a best case scenario, we'll be able to reopen our doors to the public, have an opening reception, and offer all of you a normal, old-fashioned museum experience. It's more likely that mask wearing and social distancing will still be in place, in which case we'd allow visitors to book tours and come in staggered at safe intervals. Guest speakers would present over Zoom rather than in person in the auditorium. In one form or another, we'll let you engage with this very meaningful exhibit in the safest way possible.
In the meantime, staff and students are working diligently behind closed doors to redesign the Murray State room and bring you two brand new permanent exhibits in time for Murray State's centennial in 2022. We will be back, better than ever, and look forward to seeing you all again when the time comes.