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James Graham Brown Foundation awards Kentucky Derby Museum $1 million grant for historic exhibit upgrade

Remastered 360° movie, "The Greatest Race," to debut in 2025

Katrina Helmer

Director of Communications

Kentucky Derby Museum


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (May 30, 2024) – Kentucky Derby Museum is proud to announce that it has been awarded a $1 million James Graham Brown Foundation Grant, which will support the Museum's ambitious strategic plan to remaster its iconic 360° feature film, "The Greatest Race," in celebration of the Museum's 40th anniversary in 2025.

The James Graham Brown Foundation is dedicated to making transformative philanthropic investments in Louisville that build, strengthen, and advance the city. In 2023 alone, the Foundation distributed grants totaling $12,575,511, and the Museum is honored to be selected as one of the Foundation's Quality of Life grant recipients for 2024.

According to the Foundation, the work carried out by Quality of Life grant recipients must contribute to a positive image of the community by furthering organizational missions in strategic and substantial ways. "The Greatest Race," presented by sponsors Kroger and Stock Yards Bank & Trust, is the crown jewel of the Museum experience, immersing visitors from all over the world in the magic and thrill of Derby day. 

While the Museum updates the end of the 18-minute film every year to reflect the most recent Kentucky Derby® winner, the current exhibit has not undergone a major upgrade in nearly a decade. The grant will allow the Museum to not only remaster the film itself but also significantly update the technology and lighting, creating a state-of-the-art experience that will push the boundaries on a what people expect from a museum.

Patrick Armstrong, President and CEO of the Kentucky Derby Museum, expressed his gratitude for the grant, stating, "We are immensely grateful to the James Graham Brown Foundation for their generous support. This prestigious grant will enable us to create a more visually stunning and immersive experience for our visitors, ensuring that 'The Greatest Race' continues to captivate and inspire audiences from across the globe. As we prepare to celebrate the Museum's 40-year history, this upgrade shows our commitment to preserving and enhancing the rich heritage of the Kentucky Derby."

The Museum received a James Graham Brown Foundation grant in 2015, which supported the previous technological overhaul of "The Greatest Race" to make it a true 360° movie experience. Guests can still expect the new version to take them on a Derby day journey with 360° views, but it will also reflect how the Churchill Downs property has expanded and how the Derby experience has evolved over the last decade.

"We're delighted to support this exciting project of the Museum, and we know this update is an integral part of what draws visitors both regionally and nationally," said Mason Rummel, President and CEO of the James Graham Brown Foundation. "Remastering 'The Greatest Race' will ensure that the story of the Kentucky Derby remains a vibrant and engaging part of Louisville's cultural landscape for years to come."

Donna Lawrence Productions has overseen the last several revisions of the movie, and the local production company was secured to complete the current overhaul. A crew of dozens of videographers and producers gathered fresh video at the track during this year's Derby week, and the company will now spend the next several months editing the new movie.

Kentucky Derby Museum has experienced record-setting growth in the last few years as it has strategically capitalized on three big Derbys in a row: Secretariat's 50th anniversary in 2023, Derby 150 in 2024, and the Museum's 40th anniversary in 2025. The Museum set an attendance record with more than 251,000 visitors this fiscal year, ranking it as the second-most visited Museum in Louisville, according to Louisville Business First’s most recent “Louisville area Tourist Attractions List.” Aligning with the Museum's long-term strategic vision, the revitalization of "The Greatest Race" will be a crucial project in strengthening the Museum's position as a premier visitor destination in the region.

In total, the project will cost $2.3 million and is scheduled to premiere in April 2025 to celebrate the Museum's 40th anniversary. The current schedule of "The Greatest Race," which runs every hour and is included with General Admission to the Museum, will not be interrupted for guests during the production process.


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