Art After Hours at the Living Arts & Science Center

We began the first stop of our autumn Art After Hours tour at The Living Arts & Science Center.  LASC was incorporated in 1968 (the same year that the Headley-Whitney was founded!) and has been going strong ever since, offering many fun, engaging programs throughout the community in addition to hosting art classes, exhibits, and more!

LASC is housed in a beautiful, historic facility.  Built in 1847 by George B. Kinkead (who became Abraham Lincoln’s lawyer in 1850), the Kinkead House stands at the corner of Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard and Fourth Street in historic downtown Lexington and played a very important role in Lexington’s history.  The House has been elegantly divided for modern times, housing beautiful exhibits for adults and children alike as well as four classrooms, and truly has something to suit every taste.

During our tour of the facility, we received a sneak peek of LASC’s new Discovery Exhibit.  Each year, the LASC completely outfits one of its rooms to suit a different science theme.  The Discovery Exhibit provides hands-on exploration of themes like The Architecture of Life, Energy on the Move, and has been everything from a desert to a cave, transforming each year to create an entirely new educational experience for visitors of all ages.  This year’s Discovery Exhibit is FOREST FINDINGS and within we found all the parts of a true forest!  A plentitude of activities allow children of all ages to explore the forest community.  From dressing up as forest creatures, to making leaf prints, and checking out the “canopy” from a ranger station, the Discovery Exhibit was a blast even for adults!  The exhibit even includes a slide to drop observers from the canopy back to the floor—and we proved that you’re never too old for a slide!

Our tour also took us to see Willie Rascoe’s exhibit, THE CORE OF NATURE’S BEAUTY: Art of an African American Folk Artist in the Gloria Singletary Gallery, the exterior exhibits, classroom space and art installations around the grounds of the facility.  The grounds are as beautiful as they are extensive, and there is truly something for everyone at the LASC.

Our journey continued upstairs where we painted masks for LASC’s Sixth Annual Festival del Dia de los Muertos celebration (The Day of the Dead Festival).  Each year, the LASC celebrates this colorful holiday with traditional dance, music, crafts, a candlelight parade, and more!  We decorated skeleton masks with paint and seeds to be put up at the Old Episcopal Burying Ground (the traditional destination of their Dia de los Muertos parade).  It was fun to see how other Art After Hours participants interpreted Dia de los Muertos and decorated their skulls!  The masks were purposely designed to evolve and change with the weather, and we can’t wait to see them installed at the cemetery!

The Living Arts & Science Center was definitely a fun stop for our first Art After Hours of the fall, and is truly a wonderful Lexington institution.  We enjoyed mingling and chatting with the staff while enjoying tasty finger sandwiches provided by Selma’s Catering, in addition to seeing many familiar faces from the Spring’s Art After Hours stops.  Be sure to join us for our next stop on October 17 at Sisophromatem Art Foundation!

For more information about The Living Arts & Science Center and their variety of programming, please visit their website at  For more information about Art After Hours and to RSVP for future events, please visit the Art After Hours Facebook page at .  

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Gearing up for Lexington Collects

We are very excited to be preparing for our upcoming exhibit about collections and collectors.  Entitled Lexington Collects, the exhibit will examine private collections from the Bluegrass from collectors of all ages—from children just beginning their collections to experienced, lifelong collectors.  We will take a look at not only what people collect but also why they collect, how their collections began, and how they maintain their collection.

Like all exhibits the idea was developed some time ago.  This week, we began to get the word out about our special exhibit.  This is a unique exhibit for the Museum in that we are asking members of the community to submit their collections to be part of the exhibit.  To let people know about this opportunity we started with promotional photos.

To find objects for the photographs we looked to our own family and friends.  Interestingly, several of our family and friends didn’t identify their objects as a collection; while a collector did have a group of similar objects, they didn’t identify the group as a collection because they weren’t particularly valuable, although they did have highly sentimental connotations.  One collector had amassed over 100 Pez dispensers during childhood.  Another had combined three generations-worth of buttons into one single collection, organized neatly by color.  Each had an interesting story, and we were fascinated to hear why these quasi-collectors began their collection, how they maintained it, and why they continued (or stopped) collecting.  We had a blast talking with our collectors, and then arranging and photographing their collections for our upcoming promotions.


In looking over the borrowed collections, we realized that all collections have a story, and indeed, that we had collections of our own that we simply hadn’t identified as collections.  Do you identify yourself as a collector?  What do you collect, and why do you collect it?  Do you want to share your collection with the community?  The application form for submitting a collection is available at

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Family Printing

We kicked off a new season of workshops for all-ages with a fun printmaking workshop to tie in with our newest exhibit, Realized in Wood: Contemporary Prints from China.  This exhibit showcases the work of ten different printmakers, highlighting scenes of everyday life using this centuries-old technique.  Traditionally, the woodblock is prepared by chipping away at the wood, creating patterns and images with the remaining raised areas that are then inked and printed onto either paper or wood.  This allows for a great deal of detail and creates remarkable prints that may be pressed again and again.  However, how can this centuries-old technique be adapted so that it can be enjoyed by all ages?


The answer is decidedly modern, and probably something you have lying around the home: Styrofoam!  Instead of creating our plates using traditional woodblocks, we updated our technique a bit by using special Styrofoam blocks that allowed us to create beautiful, detailed images using nothing but pens, pencils, and imagination!

ImageWe first brainstormed about our images before sketching them onto tracing paper.  All images must be etched onto the Styrofoam plate backwards, so after tracing, we simply inverted the tracing paper and then traced back over our designs so that they would appear in the correct order when we printed them.

ImageThen came the fun part: printing!  We used brayers and block printing ink to make our final prints.  We started on white paper, but many participants got creative, using colored construction paper and light colored ink to highlight their designs.

ImageBlock printing was definitely a fun, creative event!  Be on the look out for our next block printing workshop–on December 1, we’ll be making block printed holiday cards for the whole family!

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Preparing for Fall at the Headley-Whitney: Changing Exhibits

It’s hard to believe that summer is almost over and that classes have been back in session for nearly two weeks!  With the change in the seasons come changes at the Museum.  We’re bustling behind the scenes at the Museum preparing for exciting new exhibits and workshops!

Last October, we received “Within the Emperor’s Garden: The Ten-Thousand Springs Pavilion” from the Smithsonian.  The impressive, one-fifth scale model represents one of the pavilions still standing in the Forbidden City in Beijing and stands in testament to traditional Chinese carving techniques.  A traveling exhibit, the Pavilion arrived at the Headley-WhitneyMuseum in twelve separate (and very large!) crates!  The Smithsonian’s Senior Conservator Don Williams and a team of seven dedicated volunteers assembled the Pavilion in less than three days, carefully angling, moving, and arranging the separate pieces into the impressive 10’x10’x10’ structure—no small feat considering the gallery the Pavilion is housed in also contains four Marylou Whitney dollhouses!  The Pavilion has been at center stage of our Museum for nearly a year, but it is time for it to move on.

How do you move a 10'x10'x10' replica? Very carefully!

This week, we began relocating crates stored around our grounds back into the main Museum building.  Armed with a pallet jack and dolly instead of a team of volunteers, we were able to maneuver the crates back into the Study Gallery in preparation for the Pavilion’s departure.  We should begin disassembling the Pavilion the first week of October—be sure to stop by the Museum to see this impressive structure before it moves to its next destination!

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Family Events at the Headley-Whitney

We have recently made a push to offer more children and family programming at the Museum.  It is our philosophy that childhood is a time to explore and learn new skills, and children’s education allows parents not only time to bond with their children, but also a fun excuse to excercise their own artistic muscles!  Over the past month, we have reinvigorated existing programming for a new audience in addition to trying out new workshops!

On August 4, we held our first-ever Family Tie-Dye event.  We had eight families participate, with our youngest participant being only a few weeks old!  Armed with rubber bands and baby pools filled with dye, we taught families how to twist and tie cloth to achieve certain patterns and how to mix the three primary colors to create a rainbow on their clothing!  We’re excited to pull out our baby pools again next year for this summertime favorite!

On August 18, we celebrated the opening of our new woodblock prints exhibit by trying our hand at this centuries-old art, but instead of using wood blocks, we used a decidedly modern material: Styrofoam!  Attendees carved designs into Styrofoam blocks using pencils before inking and printing using our hand press.  Several artists experimented using different colored papers and layering prints to create art to take home and cherish.  This workshop was so successful that we will be offering it again in December, just in time to block print your own holiday cards!


We plan to offer more educational programming for children and families in the future, beginning with Jewelry 101 in September to finish up “Jewelry Month.”  Be sure to keep an eye on our Workshops page and our Facebook for the latest information on upcoming classes and events.

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Pets and the Headley-Whitney

George Headley’s love for art was second only to his love for his pets.  Pets played a large role in Headley’s legacy, becoming as known for his love of dogs as for his bibelots.  Always eccentric, locals remember that Headley was never without his beloved dogs.  Some remember that his dogs would precede him wherever he went, heralding his arrival: wherever the dogs were, George was sure to be following shortly behind!

George Headley with two unknown dogs.

Pets were treated as beloved members of the family and were often featured as prominently in photographs as their human counterparts.  The Museum’s collections house several scrapbooks dedicated solely to the Headley pets and their exploits.  In one, a family celebration for a pet’s birthday was commemorated with a photograph!

“Baby Louise has a birthday party
LtoR: Sovey, Jetty, Louise, Biffy, Sparky, Buttons

Headley’s pets also played a prominent role in his marketing schemes at his jewelry boutique in the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, California during the 1940s and 1950s.  According to legend, during a lull in sales, Headley would send one of his beloved dogs out to the pool modeling one of his lavish jewelry designs in the hopes of bringing customers back to the shop!  In this photo from the Museum’s collection, one of Headley’s dogs, a Dachshund named Ernie models some of his master’s jewelry designs.


Ernie models some of Headley’s designs.

Additionally, Headley loved his pets so much that he constructed a “Pet Cemetery” to commemorate their lives.  Stones give glimpses into his beloved pet’s personalities, from the poignant to witty:



Snored So Gently



“There was a little ern”

Little Bibelot

Only 3 months old

July 8, 1969


My Buddy for 18 years

May 1980

Kitty White Sox

Thought She Was a Dog

The pet cemetery, still on the Headley-WhitneyMuseum’s grounds, commemorates the lives of twenty-one of the family pets (twenty dogs and one cat) and is still a part of the Museum tour.

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Black Tie Gems

ImageLast week, we kicked off an exciting new season of events at the Headley-Whitney beginning with a class in bead weaving, creating a “Black Tie Gem.”

Bead weaving is an ancient technique found in many cultures, and uses weaving techniques to weave together tiny seed beads into intricate patterns or pieces.  In our case, we created pendants to take home!

The Black Tie Gem pendant was created by Kelly Graves of Whimsy Beading.  A native of Versailles, Kentucky, Kelly is a self-taught bead-weaver and has run a successful Etsy shop for three years.  She instructed our class with ease and guided us through the initially-daunting craft of stringing the tiny seed beads into a beautiful pendant!


There is truly an element of magic in this pattern–the inner ring of Swarovski crystals and tiny gold seed beads is strung first, then an intricate mesh pattern expands around the ring of crystals.  However, the magic happens when the center gem is put into place–a few tugs of the string and the entire piece transforms from a pretty design to a stunning, elegant pendant before your eyes!

All of our workshop participants left with a completed pendant and instructions to follow at home (and at least one participant has tried to recreate the magic at home!)  Kelly also unveiled her design for her next workshop for September 22:  Nouveau Pearls!  Be on the lookout for more workshops with Kelly this year!

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