Gov. Steve Beshear’s Portrait Added to Hall of Governors
By Sara Elliott, curator
Gov. Steve Beshear and his wife, Jane, unveiled his official portrait on Dec. 1 in the Kentucky Hall of Governors at KHS. Joy Thomas, a nationally known portrait artist from Murray, Kentucky, completed the painting in 2011 at the end of Beshear’s first administration and it has been on display at the State Capitol Building since. (He has the distinction of being only the second Kentucky governor since 1800 to serve two full consecutive terms.)
With the installation of Beshear’s portrait, the tradition continues to honor the men and one woman who have guided Kentucky over the last two centuries. As each governor leaves office, the official portrait becomes part of the KHS collections, preserved for current and future generations to see.
The Kentucky Hall of Governors is more than just a portrait gallery, though. It is designed to educate visitors about the governors and the Commonwealth’s highest office through interactive elements, artifacts, oral histories, fun tidbits from Kentucky politics, and, of course, portraits and biographies of former governors.
Among other things, visitors are asked if they meet the qualifications to run for governor (if they have fought a duel, they do not, for instance). They also are encouraged to imagine that they have just been elected governor and to write on a sticky note what they would do first. (It is no surprise that many children think school should be abolished.)
Kentucky politics is known for many things — good and bad — and it is always fun to read the words of poet James Milligan who wrote in 1902:
The song birds are the sweetest
The thoroughbreds are fleetest
Mountains tower proudest,
Thunder peals the loudest,
The landscape is the grandest—
And politics—the damnedest