The Speed Art Museum, formerly known as the J.B. Speed Art Museum, is an art museum located in Louisville, Kentucky. The museum frequently offers left-of-center ideological events and programming.
The museum opened in 1927. 1 It had been established in 1925. 2 The museum is named for the late Louisville business leader James Breckinridge Speed and was the vision of his widow, Hattie Bishop Speed, who wanted to memorialize her late husband’s love of the arts. 3
Many of the Speed Museum’s activities trace political and cultural trends. The museum set up a show called “Promise, Witness, Remembrance,” in memory of Louisville resident Breonna Taylor, whose killing by police in 2020 helped precipitate that summer’s demonstrations. 4 It features a painting of Taylor and echoes the rhetoric of the Black Lives Matter movement. 5 Then-director of the museum Stephen Reily authored a letter stating that “racism is a structural part of life in the United States” and apologized for the museum’s role in contributing to it. 6
In 2018, the museum hosted an exhibition that explored gender-identity issues. 7 The museum hosted an event on transgender advocacy during that year. 8 The Speed Museum’s “Crosscurrents” gallery was set up to showcase “female-identifying artists, artists of color, and queer artists.” 9 The museum’s website contains information about pronouns; all-gender restrooms; and diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion. 10
The Speed Museum’s tax returns indicate that the museum received nearly $9 million in public support in 2020, a significant increase from the approximately $4.5 million it received in 2019 and $2.3 million in 2016. 11 In 2022, it received a grant of $250,000 from the Ford Foundation for social justice programming. 12 Other donors in 2022 named in the museum’s annual report included the National Endowment for the Arts. 13 The Speed Museum also announced a donation from the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town grant program in 2020. 14
- Kramer, Elizabeth. “Timeline: A History of the Speed Art Museum.” Courier Journal, March 4, 2016. https://www.courier-journal.com/story/entertainment/arts/visual/2016/03/04/timeline-history-speed-art-museum/81309816/
- “General FAQs.” Speed Art Museum. Accessed September 10, 2023. https://www.speedmuseum.org/visit/general-faqs/.
- Elson, Martha. “Hail to Hattie, Speed Museum Founder.” Courier Journal, March 25, 2016. https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/history/river-city-retro/2016/03/25/retro-hail-hattie-speed-museum-founder/82201454/.
- Cotter, Holland. “Breonna Taylor Show Puts Art Museums on a Faster Track.” The New York Times Art & Design, April 11, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/11/arts/design/breonna-taylor-review-museum-louisville.html.
- Goldstein, Caroline. “In a Louisville Museum Show, Artists Reflect on the Legacy of Breonna Taylor and Other Black Lives Lost to Gun Violence—See Images Here.” Artnet News, April 16, 2021. https://news.artnet.com/art-world/promise-witness-remembrance-at-the-speed-museum-1959613.
- Reily, Stephen. “From The Director.” Speed Art Museum. Accessed September 10, 2023. https://www.speedmuseum.org/the-speeds-commitment/.
- “Breaking the Mold: Investigating Gender at the Speed Art Museum.” Speed Art Museum. Accessed September 10, 2023. https://www.speedmuseum.org/exhibitions/breaking-the-mold-investigating-gender-at-the-speed-art-museum/.
- “Dialogues On Gender: ‘Y’all Better Quiet Down: Trans Advocacy, Justice & Safety.’” Speed Art Museum, June 24, 2018. https://www.speedmuseum.org/yall-better-quiet-down-trans-advocacy-justice-safety/.
- “Crosscurrents Contemporary Art From the Speed Art Museum Collection and Beyond.” Speed Art Museum. Accessed September 10, 2023. https://www.speedmuseum.org/exhibitions/crosscurrents-contemporary-art-from-the-speed-art-museum-collection-and-beyond/.
- “Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion at the Speed.” Speed Art Museum. Accessed September 10, 2023. https://www.speedmuseum.org/speed-deai/.
- JB Speed Art Museum, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2020. Accessed September 10, 2023. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/610444823/202242279349302859/full.
- “Core Support for Social Justice Programming.” Ford Foundation. Accessed September 10, 2023. https://www.fordfoundation.org/work/our-grants/awarded-grants/grants-database/j-b-speed-art-museum-140548/.
- “Annual Report and Financials.” Speed Art Museum. Accessed September 10, 2023. https://www.speedmuseum.org/about/annual-report-and-financials/.
- “Speed Art Museum Receives NEA Our Town Grant.” Speed Art Museum. Accessed September 10, 2023. https://www.speedmuseum.org/about/press-news/speed-art-museum-receives-nea-our-town-grant-to-fulfill-community-outreach-initiatives-in-the-russell-neighborhood/.