Saturday, May 26, 2001

Louisville getting gun museum

Collection worth millions aims to be a top draw

The Associated Press

        LOUISVILLE — One of the city's wealthiest residents plans to open a $20 million museum to feature his collection of antique guns and rifles.

        Owsley Brown Frazier said he hopes to draw visitors from around the world to his Frazier Historical Arms Museum, set to open in late 2002 or early 2003 at Ninth and Main streets.

        It will be the latest addition to an area that is developing into a tourist and entertainment district and includes the Louisville Slugger Museum and Louisville Science Center.

        Along with Mr. Frazier's multimillion-dollar gun collection, the museum will have a gift shop and an 1850s-style saloon serving food and old-fashioned drinks such as sarsaparilla.

        The collection includes a rifle that once belonged to Theodore Roosevelt and a handgun given to Gen. George Custer.

        “I hope that visitors gain an appreciation for the historic, for the feats of engineering, the feats of mankind,” Mr. Frazier said. “We'll try to put into perspective that weapons are not all bad.”

        The museum also will feature traveling exhibits and has received a commitment from Great Britain's Queen Elizabeth, who'll permit some of the royal family's extensive collection of historic weapons to be used in the opening exhibit, “Women at Arms.”

        The queen is an acquaintance of Mr. Frazier and an occasional visitor to Kentucky, where she boards her thoroughbreds.

        The queen's representatives will be in town next week to consider donating a permanent exhibit from Britain's Royal Armouries Museum, Mr. Frazier said.

        Louisville Mayor Dave Armstrong said the project will add another major development to downtown Louisville.

        Mr. Frazier, 66, retired last year as vice chairman of Brown-Forman Corp., which distributes bourbon and other liquors. The company was founded four generations ago in 1870 by George Garvin Brown.

        Mr. Frazier's interest in weapons began as a child, he said, when he and his family traveled to Canada for vacations.

        “We'd go up there fishing, camping and shooting, and that's when I was taught to know and respect firearms and how to shoot and clean the weapons,” he said.

        A fund-raising campaign will begin soon, in which Mr. Frazier hopes to raise $10 million to operate the museum and foundation.


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