Established by Jerry Baker in the year 1992, the Baker Arboretum in Bowling Green today spans across almost one hundred and fifteen acres. Constructed atop a ridge consisting of rolling hills, the arboretum located on the edge of Bowling Green overlooks the city and the campus of Western Kentucky University. A landscape architect by the name of Mitchel Leichhardt worked with the art and tree collections to design a tapestry that combined both the art and trees.
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Among other flowering trees present at the Baker Arboretum are a variety of magnolias and dogwoods intertwined with Japanese maples and conifers. Visitors to the arboretum are able to enjoy plants on the grounds throughout the year. In addition to blooms during the spring season and summer months, guests can enjoy the many colors of fall from more than one hundred and sixty Japanese maples and beautiful conifers during the winter months.
The Downing Museum on the outskirts of Bowling Green opened its doors to the public in 2009 as a section of the Baker Arboretum. The museum exhibits a large collection of art created by the Joe Downing, along with artwork by other artists from the area, the state, the country, and other parts of the world. Joe Downing, in addition to being an alumnus of WKU, was an artist of world-renown. Joe Downing and Jerry Baker were long-time friends and collaborated together to design the museum.
The Baker Arboretum’s Downing Museum contains the most comprehensive artwork collection of the various works created by Joe Downing throughout his lifetime. Visitors can see how Downing’s work evolved over the years through changes in color and shape while exploring the art museum. Guests can view his exploration of the traditional forms of art media, as well as wonder at his vision that used found objects to create fascinatingly unique pieces of art.
Along with the collection of artwork by Downing, the art museum features works of art that represent the artwork that Baker spent his life collection. These holdings include works from the local region of south central Kentucky, from throughout America, and from artists across the globe. The collection of Jerry Baker is reflective of his decades of support of the arts in the state of Kentucky, along with traveling throughout the country and to other parts of the world.
The various exhibits within the Downing Museum and the Baker Arboretum reflect a lifetime of Joe Downing’s creative work. These exhibits provide a illustrative journey that spans from Downing’s modest beginnings in the town of Horse Cave in the state of Kentucky up through being recognized internationally as a contemporary artist. A selection of the collection held by the museum, in addition to private collections, offer visitors with a look at the celebrated art career of a small town artist that is renowned throughout the world. Guests can gain an appreciation for the artist and learn about his life during a visit to the Downing Museum, and learn more about the history of the museum itself and the Baker Arboretum.
4801 Morgantown Road, Bowling Green, Kentucky, Phone: 270-842-7415