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Outgoing Museums President Gives Ardent Thumbs Up To Ky. History Center

Laurel Harper, Thomas D. Clark Center For Kentucky History

Friday was no ordinary day for the staff and volunteers at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History in Frankfort. 

The museum played host to the outgoing president of the American Alliance of Museums, Ford Bell, who’ll be retiring from his post in May.  Bell was there to help the center celebrate its renewed accreditation from the A.A.M., only a handful of places in Kentucky have earned that distinction.  He told WUKY museums provide a vital tactile experience certainly for adults, but especially for kids.

"Coming to a history museum is what gets young people excited about their heritages.  Young people are drawn to the actual object.  They're fascinated by seeing something...they're used to seeing things online.  But when they see a historic object right in front of them, it's very powerful for kids.  We make judgments about kids about 'well, they like their ipads and their ipods,' so they're not going to be interested in actual history...but they are interested," Bell said.

Bell toured the facility with Executive Director Kent Whitworth and gave a very enthusiastic thumbs up of the entire operation.

"I've been to 504 museums in 46 states in the past eight years and what museums do in our country today is amazing.  I like to say if you name a societal problem that a community is facing I'll find you a museum that's working on it.  Museums are engaged with their communities.  They are educational institutions first and foremost, they're research institutions, but they're also community institutions and they strengthen communities in many, many ways," Bell said.

During his tour of the museum Bell got a chance to see the pocket watch once owned by Abraham Lincoln, that was prominently featured in the recent Steven Spielberg film.