KY Cultural Sites See Increase in Local Interest Visits / Public News Service

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Amid the pandemic, Kentuckians have shown more interest in local attractions as they stay closer to home, and museums and cultural centers say they are keeping up with demand.

Local sites strive to increase educational experiences and accessibility.

Chris Joslin, executive director of the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame Museum in Owensboro, said people have taken part in music lessons, concerts and jam sessions, all without having to leave home.

“People have been looking for opportunities to engage in rewarding adventures, but still a little closer to home, which may not require a flight or a long trip,” Joslin observed.

Last year, the museum received a $15,000 grant from AARP to enhance its visitor experience with a user-friendly audio guide. AARP Kentucky said this year, local nonprofit groups and government agencies can apply for its Community Challenge Grants, through March 22. Grants are awarded for quick-action projects aimed at making communities more livable.

Joslin explained that the museum used the funding to develop a portable audio guide to its main exhibit areas. He noted that the device also has a sign language option for hearing-impaired visitors.

“As you walk through the museum, it’s great for anyone with a visual impairment or low literacy, or let’s say someone who’s not ambulatory,” Joslin pointed out. “A lot of the labels, a lot of the storytelling, are at eye level. So that allows those people to really have an enhanced guided tour.”

Joslin added that many residents listen to traditional music thanks to the work of the museum.

“And we find that many of these people then discover ways to engage on an ongoing basis with the larger work of the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame Museum,” Joslin noted. “We see them coming back, and we love it.”

AARP Community Challenge grant projects must be completed by November of this year.

Disclosure: AARP Kentucky contributes to our fund for reporting on policy and budget priorities, health issues, seniors’ issues, and city planning/transportation. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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