Historical places: A look inside the Behringer-Crawford Museum

COVINGTON, Ky. -- The Behringer-Crawford Museum sits on a hill in Covington's popular Devou Park and contains crucial pieces of Northern Kentucky's history.

The museum opened its doors on July 5, 1950 under the leadership of Ellis Crawford, the museum's first curator, as the "William Behringer Memorial Museum." The exhibit served as a tribute to Crawford's long-time friend, William Behringer, a world traveler from Northern Kentucky who had died.

After a series of renovations the museum reopened as the Behringer-Crawford Museum by 1980. From shrunken heads to Civil War artifacts, the Behringer-Crawford Museum holds a variety of exhibits.

The building was once the family home of William P. and Charles P. Devou who willed their family estate to the City of Covington. The city was instructed to preserve the structure and turn it into an art gallery or museum for the public.

Since then, the museum has gone through a series of renovations and now houses several exhibits that depict the history, culture and art of Northern Kentucky over the generations.

A Collector and Curator

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The museum first opened as the "William Behringer Memorial Museum" on July 5, 1950, after the passing of world traveler William Behringer. The museum's first curator, Ellis Crawford (the subject of the portrait above) wanted to preserve the memory of his long-time friend. Crawford, who was also a collector, continued to display Behringer's findings.

The Estate

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William P. and Charles P. Devou willed their family's estate to the city of Covington as a tribute to their parents. In 1910, the city acquired the property and developed what is now known as Devou Park. The Devou brothers had several stipulations on the city's use of the property. Among their requests was their family home be used as an art gallery or museum for the public. By 1950 the Behringer-Crawford Museum was established. Over the years a second addition was built to accommodate for the growth of the museum.

The Collections

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This two-headed taxidermy calf alongside a shrunken head from the collection of William Behringer are among two of the most notable items inside the Behringer-Crawford Museum. Behringer collected artifacts from around the world during his travels. Upon his death he donated his findings to the City of Covington where they remain on display.

A Streetcar Named Kentucky

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The once-popular "Kentucky" streetcar, built in 1892, was retired to the Behringer-Crawford Museum in 1950. It was the last public streetcar to be used in Northern Kentucky and was often rented for private parties. "Kentucky" was one of the few methods of public transportation that traveled to the beaches of Ludlow and Dayton.

Crawford's Critters

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Crawford had a passion for taxidermy and exhibited his pieces at the museum over the years. This is a full-sized Wapiti, or Eastern elk, that Crawford killed and preserved himself. It now resides in the children's area of the museum.

Big Bone Springs

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Crawford oversaw many archeological digs in Northern Kentucky, including several "paleo" digs that took place in partnership with the University of Nebraska at Big Bone Springs. Crawford pioneered the effort to make the park a national historic site in order to protect it as a natural habitat. The museum went on to create a Junior Archeology program.


If You Go
Hours: Tuesday - Saturday 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m.- 5 p.m.; Closed Mondays and all National Holidays
Admission: $7 Adults (18-59); $6 Seniors (60+); $4 Children (3-17)
Phone: (859) 491-4003
Website: http://www.bcmuseum.org/
Address: 1600 Montague Road, Devou Park, Covington, Ky. 41011


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