Bluegrass Music Museum Re-opens April 11

After being closed the past several months for a $3 million upgrade, the International Bluegrass Music Museum at RiverPark Center in Owensboro, Ky., will re-open to the public Thursday, April 11. Admission will be free that day.

Welcoming ceremonies start at the museum at 3 p.m. and will feature Sonny Osborne playing his banjo rendition of “America, the Beautiful.” The Osborne Brothers and their band will then perform “Kentucky,” followed by Tim O’Brien singing “Uncle Pen.”

Kitsy Kuykendall, who serves on the museum’s opening-day committee, says there will also be an unveiling of a plaque that honors the “first generation” of bluegrass musicians. The more than 200 entries on the plaque will include the names of sidemen as well as those of all the members of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Hall of Honor. All living members of the Hall of Honor have been invited to attend the event, Kuykendall says.

Also on the opening day agenda are a VIP reception, live music at the onsite Woodward’s Café and a concert from 6 to 9 p. m. in RiverPark Center’s main hall which will star the Osborne Brothers, Jim & Jesse and other acts yet to be determined. On Friday and Saturday, the museum will host a variety of live shows from 1 to 3 p.m.

Overseeing the museum’s day-to-day operations will be executive director Chuck Hayes, who was appointed to the position three weeks ago. Before coming to the museum, Hayes spent 32 years running United Way offices in Massachusetts, Connecticut, South Carolina, California and Alabama.

Among the museum’s attractions, Hayes says, are exhibits of bluegrass artifacts, memorabilia and pictures; interactive displays that allow visitors to make their own bluegrass music mixes; a theater with continuously running historical film clips; a classroom for special projects; and regularly changing displays. Another feature will be a free jukebox stocked with 50 major bluegrass recordings. Ticket prices have not been set.

The International Bluegrass Music Association, which used to share quarters with the museum, will remain at its present location, although it may eventually move back to offices on the museum’s still-unfinished third floor.

Adding to the opening festivities will be a three-day indoor bluegrass festival at the nearby Executive Inn, April 12-14. Acts will perform in the Showroom Lounge that overlooks the Ohio River.

Friday’s schedule — which runs from 4 to 11 p.m. — includes J. D. Crowe & The New South, Ronnie Reno & The Reno Tradition, Rhonda Vincent & The Rage and Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time.

Saturday’s 4 to 11 p.m. lineup consists of the Whites, Jim & Jesse, Blue Highway and the Del McCoury Band.

Sunday’s 11 a. m. to 1 p. m. show stars the Isaacs and New Found Road.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to