27. Frazier History Museum, Louisville, KY ±1500 guns, ±400 on display (27%). Established in 2004

Frazier History Museum Exterior
Frazier History Museum Case


The 2004 Frazier Museum Mission Statement declared tis aim was “…to portray the history, artistry, and technological significance of weaponry and armor in the context of events that have shaped our country and world.” With the help of experts, a collection of quality arms was quickly assembled. The arms galleries of the Frazier Museum are a tour de force in curatorship. The holy trinity of quality guns, clear and informative texts, and excellent exhibit design are very well balanced.

There are three parts of the Frazier’s gun collection. On the ground floor is a burgundy-velvet ‘jewel box’ exhibition of impeccably embellished Savage and Marlin rifles from the collection of Peter B. Hutton. It includes Roosevelt’s “Big Stick” and a Holland & Holland double-barreled Safari rifle, responding to the museum’s mandate of finding guns with a storied past. On the first floor, the main display opens with American Colonial arms and runs through to America’s Golden Age of revolver and rifle design, ending around 1900. On some days, a docent will be out front with a tray of historic pistols for museum goers to handle. The third part of the collection is a massive assemblage of toy soldiers, miniature cannons and tanks, arranged historically in a corridor leading to the ground floor bathrooms.

The Frazier has many historic firearms in storage, bolstered by a new generation of donations from collectors. These include everything from an 1818 Collier Flintlock revolver to late twentieth century mint ‘new-in-box’ rifles and handguns. The Frazier has been smart to harness Kentucky’s respect for firearms to add to its landmark collection. The permanent galleries are not yet complemented with temporary displays that show this next chapter of firearms. We now wait for the Frazier to fill its 2004 mandate, and continue telling the firearm story into the twentieth and twenty-first century.

Karcheski, Walter J., Selections from the Frazier Historical Arms Museum, Lawrenceburg (2003)