Updated: Jan 19, 2019
To help expand its educational efforts, the Kentucky Hemp Growers Cooperative opened a permanent museum and library in Versailles in 1999 at at 149 Lexington Street. An official ribbon cutting ceremony for the museum was held on June 4. The museum received a $25,000 annual grant from the Turner Foundation, and recieved support from Woodford County residents.
The museum occupied a small space of about 1000 square feet in the first floor if a building well over 100 years old in the historically important area of Woodford county, which was once the leading hemp seed producing area in the United States. Tours were self-guided, or guided by the director or another board member if the visitor so desires, and admission is free.
Larger pieces of historic agricultural equipment, including a self-rake reaper and a field decorticator, were displayed in Lexington at Club Hemp and some artifacts were kept in storage due to lack of space. The displays focused on Kentucky and the U.S., while exhibits on the resurgent hemp industry focused on Europe and Canada.
The museum also maintained a library collection of many historic documents from Kentucky's hemp industry, and publications from around the world on the potential uses and benefits of hemp for sustainable agriculture and eco-friendly products.
An article published in early 2000 claimed civic and school groups, along with hemp-curious individuals frequented the museum, museum director Heather Gifford said, “most of the people who come in here are farmers wanting information about growing industrial hemp. I’ve had several church groups visit. They have been very interested and supportive and got the answers they needed.”
Gifford picked Woodfood County for the location of the museum because of its rich soil and mild, ideal climate, “Woodford County was the hemp seedbed of Kentucky,” Gifford said. “Hemp seed from here was shipped all over the country.”
The museum was open noon to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Friday and the museum van featuring the portable display continued to visit fairs and festivals throughout the state.
Unfortunately, the museum no longer exists and the majority of the artifacts have been donated to Kentucky historical societies and universities.