Speed’s Three-Year Closure is Extreme

Charles Venable at the Breakfast of Champions

When Dr. Charles Venable spoke at our Breakfast of Champions event in May, the Speed Museum CEO was touting a bold and ambitious plan to eliminate asphalt, create a park-like setting and totally change the look of the property. It looked pretty cool and it would not be financed with taxpayer money, and now already $43 million has been raised.  It included a YouTube video that gave us all a look at something that looked nothing like what is there now.

As it should have for its $79 million price tag. I didn’t know it would require the entire that the entire facility would be closed for three years. THREE YEARS.  Starting next October. Today’s release from the Speed mentioned a full schedule of upcoming events, and plenty of quotes from Speed officials on how difficult a decision it was to close the doors for three years.

The whole program didn’t sit well with Dr. John Gilderbloom, a U of L professor who attended the May event and spoke out in objection regarding the Civil War statue near the site. Gilderbloom spoke out in opposition to the presence of the statue, a reminder of the Civil War.  He believes the closure will have a huge detrimental effect in many ways, as he explained in this rant posted on Facebook.

The three to five year closing along with their refusal to change the dominance of the Confederate statue is why the Speed remains a boring, predictable, and offensive institution. It’s an institution that is of the past and not the present with no future vision. Its stale and mismanaged. I assume the renovation costing 40 million dollars plus will give us more of the same. Its amazing for an art institution the lack of imagination the board apparently has. They can’t figure out how to do one section of the museum at a time and leave the rest open? Does this mean with the closing that staff, administrators and the Director will be laid off as well? Nice Christmas gift to the staff! My bet is the administrators will get to stay and get paid to keep the building closed. Only in Louisville! What are the economic costs to staff and its impact on tourism and economic development efforts? Were these things considered? What are they going to do in the meantime: try to get Linda McCartney to have another photo show in five years? Why don’t they move some of the exhibits to the airport for incoming travelers like they do in Amsterdam or downtown along 4th street in those empty buildings? Why don’t they just renovate Whiskey Row for $20 million dollars and help improve the economic development of downtown? Please give Bill Whalen, Joseph and Joseph or Gill Holland a call! Attendance would double or triple at the new Speed on Main Street. Imagine this: 23,000 persons attending a concert or a basketball game or comparable number attending a convention, they could walk down to the new Speed Museum on Whiskey Row or on Fourth Street. UofL needs Speed Museum space without costly renovation. Everyone could win on moving it downtown just as our previous Mayor had urged. Calling Mayor Fisher right now! P.S. Yes, the master plan also refused to change the direction, locaiton and setting of the Confederate statue marching to the North.