Danville, KY Arts & Culture
Offerings include museums, galleries, festivals and historic sites
PHOTO CREDIT: Jeffrey S. Otto
Present-day artists and attractions along with historic charm and preservation are what help make Danville-Boyle County a nice place to live and visit, with several interesting things to see and do.
On the Centre College campus, Norton Center for the Arts is where visitors can attend a variety of performances and events, from symphony and ballet performances to those by artists such as Dolly Parton. For theater lovers, Pioneer Playhouse serves dinner and a live show Tuesdays through Saturdays during summer months, while West T. Hill Community Theatre produces plays year round and maintains a vibrant children’s theater program.
Since 1998, the Arts Commission of Danville-Boyle County has fostered art awareness, education and events, including a twice-yearly Gallery Hop Stop where downtown businesses stay open late to host gallery-goers. A biannual Art-full Raffle raises funds for scholarships. The Community Arts Center, located in the beautiful old Federal Building in the heart of downtown, showcases exhibits and performances and offers classes in dance, music and visual arts.
Stephen Rolfe Powell Studio
World renowned glass artist Stephen Powell is an art professor at Centre College and has also opened his own Stephen Rolfe Powell Studio in Danville. On display are several of his colorful large-scale blown glass sculptures, with his artistic style often described as playful and whimsical. Many of his pieces are so huge that it took a team of glass artists to complete them under Powell’s direction.
Take a tour of the Ephraim McDowell House Museum, a National Historic Landmark named for one of the area’s early physicians. Or go small at the Great American Dollhouse Museum, where a world of miniatures can intrigue tall and tiny visitors alike, with attractions like a playroom, classroom and gift shop.
Kentucky’s state constitution was signed in 1792 in Danville’s Constitution Square, which is known as the Birthplace of the Commonwealth. The park includes several original and replica historic structures of the era, a visitors center and the offices of the Economic Development Partnership. Also well worth a visit is the log courthouse, where 10 constitutional conventions were held.
Those interested in Civil War history should visit Perryville Battlefield, the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the war. The battlefield today is home to a park and visitors center that is open year round, while the battle is commemorated each October. Other interesting Civil War-related sites include Danville National Cemetery and McDowell Park near Centre College, which features a statue in memory of the Confederate States of America. While in Perryville, tour historic Merchant's Row, the oldest original commercial district still standing.
For accommodations with historic flair, The Farm is an old working plantation transformed into a bed-and-breakfast where guests can get a full agricultural experience by working with the farm animals. Newer properties for overnight stays include Stay Over Danville and the Bowman Bungalow.
Events and Festivals
The Great American Brass Band Festival brings 40,000 fans to Danville each June for music, food, fireworks, a hot air balloon race and other fun. As summer comes to a close, Boyle County has many weekend events and festivals to enjoy the beautiful weather, such as the Kentucky State BBQ Festival in September. Later in September, Oktoberfest on Main features good food, craft beers, live music and fun. In October, the Forkland Heritage Festival & Revue presents life as it was lived in old times, complete with traditional country music and working craftspeople.