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Bardstown whiskey museum to feature ‘Prohibition in Kentucky’ in advance of June 14 grand reopening

The Bourbon Capital of the World is the site of two major events this May and June: The new exhibit, “Prohibition and Kentucky,” gifted to the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History by Louisville’s Frazier History Museum, opens on Saturday, May 19. The Grand Reopening of the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History takes place with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 11 a.m. on Thursday, June 14, during National Bourbon Day.

“Come stroll through the many exhibits at the renovated Oscar Getz and experience life as it was for citizens during the Prohibition era while enjoying a newly renovated museum,” said Linda McCloskey, executive director.

‘Lips that touch liquor shall not touch ours’

The Grand Opening of the “Prohibition and Kentucky” exhibit will be held 10 a.m.-4 p.m. May 19. See historic moonshine stills, flapper dresses, signs and life-size models, including Carrie Nation and an FBI detective. Watch a silent Prohibition-era movie on TV. Trace the rise of the temperance movement, organized crime and the repeal of the 18th Amendment in 1933.

The exhibit brings the Jazz Age to life and shows how millions of otherwise law-abiding Americans chose to violate the national alcohol ban to quench the country’s thirst for illegal booze.

With its two full-sized bars and an event-ready Speakeasy with lighted stage, “Prohibition and Kentucky” stands ready for a party. In 1920, you needed a doctor’s prescription or a Speakeasy password to get your lips on some liquor. Today, both the great stories, and the spirits, are much easier to come by.

A grand museum reopens

On June 14, join the crowd at 11 a.m. for a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and help celebrate the Grand Reopening of the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History. The museum has undergone renovation and an extensive makeover to bring the newly reimagined space to life in telling the story of the history of whiskey.

“All rooms and the hall on the first floor and the entire second floor have been freshly painted,” said McCloskey. “New exhibits and new signage share different chapters of the story of whiskey’s history.”

The Grand Reopening coincides with National Bourbon Day when America’s only native spirit is feted across the country.

The Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History is home to a 5,000-piece permanent collection relating to the American whiskey industry that spans pre-Colonial days to post-Prohibition years. The free-admission museum is located within the circa 1826 Spalding Hall, once a Civil War hospital for both North and South.

Collection highlights include exhibits on Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, an authentic moonshine still captured in the hills of Kentucky, antique bottles and jugs, medicinal whiskey bottles, advertising art, novelty whiskey containers and more. See a circa 1898 Hayner combination-lock bar bottle, an 1840 E.G. Booze Bottle and life-sized murals from 1940s-era liquor stores.

A 600-piece decanter and bottle collection that dates from the 1930s to the present shows off designs both stunning and quirky (and replicas of many of these are available in the gift shop), along with Prohibition-era “prescriptions” and a display about hatchet-swinging temperance warrior Carry Nation.

Bourbon Capital of the World

As the Bourbon Capital of the World, Bardstown is a fitting location to share the story of America’s so-called “Noble Experiment.” Learn more about those tight-lipped ladies of the temperance movement and other fun facts at the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History, then visit the distilleries nearby: Barton 1792 and Willett Distillery and, on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, Heaven Hill, Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam and Four Roses.

Get immersed in the fun of “Prohibition and Kentucky” and book an overnight in the jail cell at The Jailer’s Inn Bed and Breakfast Inn, formerly the Old Nelson County Jail property. Encompassing the “Old Jail,” constructed in 1819, and the “New Jail,” built in 1874, the inn gives guests a taste of the fate that might have befallen those rounded-up in raids during the Prohibition years.

Enter the jail cell guestroom with its solid steel door, exposed brick walls (what else?!) and two original bunk beds and shower. A full breakfast is included, which moves outdoors, to the inmate’s former exercise area, now a beautiful private flower-filled courtyard, during the summer.

From Bardstown-Nelson County Tourist and Convention Commission

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