LOUISVILLE, Ky. (FOX 56) — The Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory’s first gallery renovation in nearly 15 years is a home run for visitors.
The additions and expansions will officially be unveiled to the public on April 5th, where the first 500 guests who take a tour will get a limited-edition mini bat and pennant. The event will also have food trucks, a balloon artist, and a special appearance by Louisville Bats mascot Buddy Bat.
Here’s a look at the changes.
More than 300,000 people visit the museum each year causing a lot of wear and tear to its gallery. Renovations started in 2019, but the project was put on pause because of the pandemic. The final cost totals $1.5 million.
When guests first enter the gallery, they see the Hold A Piece of History exhibit. Baseball fans have the opportunity to hold bats used in MLB games by some of their favorite professional players. The updated exhibit has at least one bat from every major league team, including bats from legends like Babe Ruth, Derek Jeter, and David Ortiz.
“That’s a really unique thing for us, and the excitement that our guests have when they hold onto these bats, it’s contagious,” said Andrew Soliday, marketing director for the museum.
Throughout the gallery, the museum’s iconic player statues are now in front of new backgrounds perfect for pictures. The sculptures are also accompanied by museum artifacts.
“Now people can really treasure those moments, having these lovely backdrops, as they stand next to some of the most iconic players, and just make those unforgettable memories that they’ll be able to treasure forever,” said Soliday.
Renovations have also made room for more exhibits. A 200-square-foot space is set aside for temporary exhibits. Kicking off in the space is West Main’s Marvel: The Big Bat. Guests discover the story of Hillerich & Bradsby Co.’s move to West Main in 1995, the installation of the iconic Big Bat, and the impact the museum has had on the development of downtown Louisville.
Another change is to the museum’s Bat Vault. It has nearly doubled in size and features more than 3,000 original bat models designed by some of the game’s most legendary players. Some of the models on display are over 100 years old. The Bat Vault experience is now included with general admission to the museum. Prior to renovations, it was only accessible to guests of the VIP museum experience.
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Guests can also get deeper into the action of two historic bat-making processes as newly added cameras showcase both the hand-turning station and the burn branding station. Every day, baseball fans can check out how a block of wood is carved into a bat and then marked with the Louisville Slugger logo. The factory makes around 2 million bats a year and has made them for more than 8,000 professional baseball players.
There are plans to renovate the museum store in the near future, as well as continue to build within the 800 Main campus it has occupied since 1995.