View Full Version : Dusty Donations to the Getz Museum
For months now I have had empty decorative bourbon decanters sitting on my office desk. One's a mid-twentieth century Old Fitzgerald, the others: Michter's King Tut, and Harper Bicentennial Whiskey Barrel are from the 1970s. The contents have been decanted into screw top bottles. I'm not the type to collect empties for display--my place isn't big enough anyway--and as they're not worth much as far as I would guess.
At any rate, I decided to email the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History and see if they were interested in taking these decanters as a donation. Without extensive correspondence (I emailed a photo of them to Mary Ellyn Hamilton), they told me they'd love to have the bottles.
She didn't say much else, but I was left wondering. How big is their collection? I know most is not on public display, but do they have a large storage area for memorabilia? Finally, and I suppose this is a question for the museum, but does anyone know if their collection goes up to present-day, albeit limited, releases?
As is obvious, I've never been there. Hopefully, one day soon. Nevertheless, I'm glad to clear away some, ahem, useless clutter and see it go to a very worthy cause.
In their office they have shelves with current offerings but most of the displays are pretty old. I don't know about what they might have in storage but they have several rooms that I figure could be filled a bit more if they wanted to or had the extra items to put out.
I've only been to the Getz once, and it's easy to criticize (which is probably why I like doing it so much) but I think the museum could stand some improvement. It's pretty much a collection of random memorabilia, albeit it a large and impressive one. They could stand to make it more educational or at least organize the rooms better. Anybody else get this impression?
Sadly, the Getz has never been a 'real' museum, in part because it has always been funded on a shoestring. Ninety percent of their collection is what Oscar Getz himself assembled when he housed it at Barton. After the collection was given to the city, the Getz family generously and more or less exclusively supported the museum. I don't know if they still do, but I believe that support either ended or declined substantially when Emma Getz (Oscar's widow) died.
The Getz and Abelson families were never local to Bardstown. They're here, in fact, in Chicago.
The industry, either directly or through related foundations, might be willing to support it more but nobody at the museum has ever had the vision to put forth a plan saying here's how much we need and here's what we would do with it. They're constantly focused on patching the roof or the boiler.
Likewise, I think, bourbon enthusiasts might be willing to support it, and some do either directly or by bidding generously at the annual auction. The auction, held each year during the Bourbon Festival, raises a few thousand dollars, which is all well and good, but that's their biggest fundraiser and that money doesn't go very far.
At the same time, I'm afraid that even if somebody dropped a load of money on them, they wouldn't know what do do with it. That vision thing again.
It's a shame. It would be great if it was an institution dedicated to the true history of the industry, with up-to-date exhibits, resources for scholars, and all of the other things 'real' museums have, but it's very hard to see how that could happen.
Part of the problem is that the people who run it will never relinquish control of it even though it's their blinkered thinking that keeps it from developing.
That's too bad. Even in its current state, I think it would be better if they could even get a museum studies student to go in there and arrange things in a more beneficial way. Maybe as an independent study or thesis project. At any rate, like you said, it's a real shame.
Has anyone seen any of the things I sent the Getz from Publicker / Continental Distilling they told me they did not have any Continental stuff so about 2 yrs ago I sent them some things a little at a time I think 13 different Trade show Bottles and other stuff and sent them some Tax strips down with Fricky. I just wondered if anyone had been in there lately and was any of the stuff put out for people to see as that was my goal to share from my collection for others to see!
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