The Highlands Museums has several permanent exhibits — toggle any below for more information:
A community responds to World War II
The American home front suffered little during the war. Food was rationed, but no one went hungry; gasoline was rationed, but chiefly for those who had no pressing need to drive. Nevertheless, it was from this secure American homeland that Ashland and the nation produced the guns, planes, tanks, ships, food, fuel and all the other items that not only equipped the huge American war machine, but our allies as well.
Men and women from Eastern Kentucky were part of the citizen army that fought the costliest war, in both blood and money, in our nation’s history.
What do you see when you’re up in a tree? Learn about the natural world around us. Bugs and beetles, butterflies and snakes, animals and birds, plants and flowers all take their place in the Discovery Center exhibit.
Step into a world when late night house calls were made on horseback and payment was in chickens and produce. Note the products of local drugstores, along with equipment used by doctors decades ago.
This segment of the museum features twelve local musicians whose careers have brought national acclaim. A unique exhibit that may catch your eye is our Music Quilt, an interactive wooden sound sculpture. Just place your palm on any of the pieces and listen!
Cavers can investigate the Discovery Cavern to learn all about caves and bats, stalagmites and stalactites.
Local aviation history, airplanes, and a wind tunnel focuses on the history of flight.
Exhibit about Ashland resident, Jean Thomas, who in the early 20th century traveled throughout the hills and hollers of KY as a court reporter. She later organized the American Folk Song Festival – performances of songs and drama held every June in Thomas’ backyard.
Ms. Williams is a graduate of Virginia Intermont College and the University of Kentucky. Joyce Williams was an Ashland native and resided in Lexington, Kentucky for a period of her life. She donated a portion of her collection of paintings for display, for sale, and for the Highlands Museum & Discovery Center’s permanent collections. The gift is a way for Mrs. Williams to bring the love of painting to people in her hometown.
Mrs. Williams said, “Coming to the conclusion that I believe that gifts of this type are better to be returned to your roots,” Mrs. Williams decided to make a lasting contribution of her paintings to the Highlands Museum & Discovery Center and the people of Ashland, “where I lived and raised our family.”
Joyce Williams Paintings
Schedule your next meeting with us! This conference room features lovely artwork depicting early Ashland and will seat 30 people.
This exhibit explores the lives of the early peoples of Kentucky. Includes educational dioramas, artifacts and interactive displays. Children can play in the hut or make a rubbing to take home.
Learn about how people live and the jobs they do along the Ohio River.
Visitors travel the Ohio River in Little Joe, a real tugboat. Young explorers will take a close look at boats and bridges as well as fish, frogs, and tents.
Brought to the museum through a partnership with Morehead State University’s Space Science Center. Visitors will learn about satellites, their construction and the programs offered at MSU. Included is the Highlands International Space Station where young visitors can experience a variety of features.
Visit a 19th century classroom! Dress in clothes of the era and become a student or teacher of the 19th century. Write on an original “blackboard” and drink from a bucket with a dipper: warm yourself by the potbelly stove.
See memorabilia from our local area including area high schools, colleges and professionals.
“Sports Sampler: Selections from the Collection.”
Open now through March 2019, this exhibit gives a brief overview of three of the most popular sports: basketball, football and baseball. Includes items such as a 1930s football jersey, a commemorative mirror about the 1961 Tomcat Champions and items related to Ashland native former pro MLB Brandon Webb. This exhibit is the kick off of a brand new rotating exhibit space that will focus on sports.
Major rotating exhibits.
The Highlands Museum & Discovery Center believes the power of play is too vital to ignore in the learning process. That’s why our community, along with a determined Board of Trustees, is launching our campaign for the all-new Clark Family Discovery Center on our 2nd floor. LEARN MORE HERE
Offers an educational play area for children 5 and under.
Especially for children: 0-18 months offers a soft-sided play space for our youngest visitors.
The Highlands Museums has rotating exhibits on display; these change regularly. Toggle below for more information:
This exhibit celebrates the museum’s 35th anniversary. Learn about the museum’s history from its beginning in a historical mansion to its continued growth in the former C.H. Parsons Department Store. Included are 35 objects donated over the years. This is a wide variety of fantastic artifacts including a fainting couch, a silver tea service set once owned by Governor Simeon Willis, vintage clothing and much more. Open now through October, 2019.
Open now on the Mezzanine, a new exhibit that looks of the history of sleeping arrangements and hygiene. Included in the display is what a typical Victorian Bedroom might have looked like, dressing gowns, sleepwear, bedding, and learn about the bathing habits (and lack thereof) of royals throughout history.
Open now through April, “Ashland’s Houses of Worship.” This exhibit features the history of many of Ashland’s oldest churches. Churches featured include First Presbyterian, Calvary Episcopal, Unity Baptist, First Christian Church, United Methodist and more. Also featured are the two former synagogues in Ashland: House of Israel and Agudath Achim. Artifacts include photos, quilts, bibles, clothing etc.
To celebrate Quilt Month, there will be a display of quilts at The Highlands Museum & Discovery Center.
The quilts that are now on display are:
- Postage Stamp c. 1920
- Crazy Quilt c. 1883
- Seminole Diamond c. Late 1800
- Tudor Rose c. 1934
This exhibit will run through March and April.
Cemetery Quilt – ONLY ON DISPLAY THROUGH MARCH!
The oldest quilt top in The Highlands Museum & Discovery Center’s collection, The Cemetery Quilt. Made in 1836 by Rosemary Mitchell in memory of her two sons, Robert and Bub. Drowned in an accident, their mother used their clothing to sew a quilt top that depicts a cemetery enclosing two coffins.
Due to the fragile nature of this quilt, it will only be on display for the month of March.
Open through July
This chronological exhibit examines the history of that essential device: the can opener. Presented by Professor Ernie Tucker and Librarian Bettie George Frye.