Museum Collections

Museum Collections

The Filson’s museum collection documents the rich and varied history of Kentucky from the late 1700s to the present.

Art: Paintings, drawings, mixed media and sculpture illustrate the people, places, events and stories of Kentuckiana. The painting collection contains one of the most extensive collections of antebellum portraiture in Kentucky. The Filson also collects contemporary works representing current events and people.

Historical Relics and Souvenirs: Artifacts from significant people and events include a sheep horn collected by William Clark during the Lewis and Clark expedition as well as frontiersman Christopher Gist’s powder horn. Souvenirs commemorate fraternal organizations and events such as the Civil War, the Southern Exposition, and the Kentucky State Fair.

Glass, Ceramics and Silver: Personal, household, and commemorative items. The collection features a large number of Kentucky silversmiths and ceramic jugs featuring Kentucky whiskey and bourbon makers and sellers.

Clothing and Textiles: Men’s, women’s and children’s garments that represent the lives of individuals living in the Ohio Valley Region from the early 1800s to the present. The collection contains a number of exquisite ball gowns, military uniforms, wedding ensembles, and accessories, as well as linens, coverlets, and quilts. This collection encompasses a variety of styles, silhouettes, and patterns representative of material culture in the region.

Domestic and Trade Tools: Artifacts and tools used for food preparation, textile production, agriculture, construction and industry particularly in the 19th century. Dental and medical instruments are also in the collection.

Military, Fire and Police: Items from men and women who have served as police, firefighters and military personnel beginning with the War of 1812. Civil War highlights include a U.S. flag captured by Morgan and a sea chest belonging to Ira J. Titus, as well as Union and Confederate flags, uniforms, firearms, swords and drums. The Filson is interested in filling gaps that document Kentuckians experiences in the Vietnam, Cold, Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq Wars.

Political: Local, state and national political buttons, ephemera and artifacts including metal ballot boxes used in the city of Louisville. The Filson collects contemporary political material.

Business and Industry: Artifacts from major industries in Kentucky including river, agricultural, tobacco, bourbon, coal mining and railroads.

A portion of the painting and sculpture collection is on view throughout the Ferguson Mansion. Tours of the campus are available weekdays at 2pm. Most museum items are not regularly on display. If you have a question about the museum collection or would like to set up an appointment to view museum items, please contact the Filson’s Collections Department at .gro.1674898073lacir1674898073otsih1674898073nosli1674898073f@hcr1674898073aeser1674898073

If you are interested in donating items to the collection please visit Donate Your Treasures.