From art centers and galleries to museums, shops and fine restaurants, Danville prides itself in sharing its arts and cultural heritage with locals and visitors alike. Now 225 years old and home to many of the oldest buildings in Kentucky, Danville exudes an old-world charm and hospitality that’s hard to find in this day and age.
In the heart of the Bluegrass Region, Danville’s historic downtown bustles with visitors to renovated buildings from the 1700’s: among them a colonial-era jailhouse, post office and tavern. Nearby stands Kentucky’s oldest courthouse. The majestic Beaux-Arts style post office, newly renovated, is home to the thriving Community Arts Center, which hosts rotating arts exhibits, classes, a robust outreach program and a monthly luncheon featuring important artists of the region. Shops and galleries line downtown’s main streets, offering the works of nationally renowned and local artists. Fine eateries, bakeries, wine shops, and ethnic restaurants abound. The Old Crow Inn offers tours of its winery and a Farmer’s Market boasts local produce. As the sun sets, the sparkle of bistros, microbreweries and clubs sets the stage for evening festivities.
Theater is alive and vibrant in Danville. Norton Center for the Arts at historic Centre College is an internationally recognized performing arts center that hosts a series of outstanding guest artists, touring productions and symphony orchestras. The state’s oldest outdoor theater, Pioneer Playhouse, offers professional entertainment in a Kentucky Historic Landmark facility. West T. Hill Community Theater features classic and contemporary plays throughout the year, often to a sold-out house.
A visit to the Danville Cultural District must include a stop at its three notable museums. Designated by the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet as "Only One," The Great American Dollhouse Museum is one of the only dollhouse museums in the United States and showcases more than 200 miniature buildings. Ephraim McDowell House, a National Historic Landmark, hosts daily tours of the restored home, surgery and apothecary of its namesake doctor. Jacob's Hall, an 1850’s Italianate National Historic Landmark, welcomes guests to explore 18 rooms exhibiting the history and culture of the deaf in Kentucky.
Seasonal events throughout the year mark Danville as an incomparable getaway destination. The Arts Commission of Danville/Boyle County presents the semi-annual Gallery Hop Stop, featuring work in gallery settings as well as musical entertainment. The Great American Brass Band Festival brings tens of thousands of people together to enjoy a beautiful weekend of music, family and fun each summer. The Willis Russell house, a pre-Civil War school for African-American children, opens its doors for special educational events. The newly established annual BBQ festival drew 25,000 people to Danville in its first year, where it delivered on its promise to fill the air with “mystical blue smoke” as pit-masters grilled their specialties.
While a library might not be noteworthy in most art districts, the Boyle County Public Library is not your grandmother’s book lender. Following a nine million dollar renovation and addition in 2010, the library displays a fine collection of local and national artwork, including the largest and only hanging glass sculpture of internationally acclaimed artist Stephen Rolfe Powell.
Danville has been recognized repeatedly for the many qualities that make it a superior place to live as well as to visit. Recently praised by CNN’s Money Magazine as the 4th Best Place in the Nation to Retire, it is also a Preserve America Community, a Great American Main Street, a Certified Local Government Program and a Kentucky Main Street community. Centre College has been named a top school for years by such magazines as U.S. News and World Report, Princeton Review, and Forbes. The city is home to two public school districts, the Boyle County School District and the Danville Independent School District. Both have received recognition for their academic, athletic, and arts programs. Danville’s doors are open to artists new to the community; Gathering Artists, for example, is a network of 70 artists and craftspeople who meet monthly to exchange ideas and encourage each other's artistic endeavors.
From the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau to the Heart of Danville Main Street Program to the dozens of arts venues, museums, festivals, shops, restaurants, hotels and bed and breakfasts, the Arts District of Danville welcomes you.
Arts District of Danville
Mary Beth Touchstone
Danville Cultural District links and attractions:
Community Arts Center
Norton Center for the Arts
West T. Hill Community Theater
The Great American Dollhouse Museum
Arts Commission of Danville/Boyle County
The Great American Brass Band Festival
Boyle County Public Library
Convention and Visitor’s Bureau
Heart of Danville Main Street Program