NEW YORK - The National Track & Field Hall of Fame opened in a gala dedication ceremony in New York on Saturday, January 24th. Located at the New Balance Track & Field Center at the Armory in the Washington Heights neighborhood, the Hall of Fame officially opened to the public on Tuesday, January 27.
Many of the sport's legendary athletes from past and present, along with USA Track & Field officials and local politicians and dignitaries, attended the opening. Made possible through a partnership between USA Track & Field and The Armory Foundation, the museum becomes New York City's only sports Hall of Fame, and the first located in a major metropolitan area.
The new $8.5 million dollar, state-of-the-art Hall of Fame facility is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year and further enhance the Armory's invaluable contributions to the sport. Currently, the Armory hosts nearly 100 meets and more than 350,000 student athletes per year.
The Hall of Fame will be open to the public Tuesdays-Saturdays from 10:30 am - 6:00 pm. Admission will be $5 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizens. The newly imagined and expanded Hall of Fame will combine homage to the sport's great performers with interactive exhibits, films and other educational displays targeted specifically to today's youth. Covering 15,000 square feet, the Hall of Fame encompasses three floors and features several breathtaking centerpieces, which will define the experience and create lasting memories.
World field event records are graphically displayed in the entrance, leading to displays honoring the philosophy that track is "A Sport for Everyone … for Life." Grassroots athletes through Olympic gold medalists are honored.
A centerpiece of the museum is the Hall of Fame Gallery, featuring the names of 197 Hall of Fame inductees etched into a glass wall immediately adjacent to the Armory's indoor track facility. The gallery features photos of many inductees as well as mementos they have donated. These artifacts include Mal Whitfield's gold medal, Jim Thorpe's javelin, Steve Prefontaine's uniform, Wilma Rudolph's singlet, and a painting of the 1936 Olympic long jump award ceremony honoring Jesse Owens.
The "What Makes a Champion" gallery functions as both exhibit space and classroom. It contains several videos, including one that features interactive capability, giving visitors an opportunity to "interview" five elite athletes and get responses and advice directly from them. The interviewees, who all donated their time, are among the most respected and prominent figures in U.S. track and field: Olympic champions Marion Jones, Maurice Greene and Gail Devers; World Champion shot putter John Godina, and high school record-holder in the mile Alan Webb. An exhibit that traces the evolution of apparel and equipment from the 19th century to the present day, highlighted by a range of artifacts that include vaulting poles from the bamboo era to the present fiberglass era; and the track shoes and uniforms worn by some of the sport's greatest legends.
Olympic film legend Bud Greenspan created a new film for the Hall of Fame, entitled "Olympic Legends," which runs continuously on screens in the Hall's first floor, and an auditorium featuring stadium seating for 70 people features a film produced by Imaginary Forces giving visitors an in-depth orientation to the sport.
The Fred Lebow Marathon Hall encompasses the second floor and celebrates the history of American marathoning. It gives visitors a chance to experience the New York City Marathon as they walk the course and become immersed in the sounds and sights that are part of that legendary race. Artifacts include Joan Benoit Samuelson's and Alberto Salazar's shoes and the tennis dress that Kathrine Switzer wore as a pioneer among women marathoners.
The National Track and Field Hall of Fame will bring the history, politics, physiology and technologies of track and field to life. It will be a teaching museum, with a particular focus on health, nutrition and fitness. From interactive experiences that use technology to measure athletic capabilities and predict potential, to celebrating such greats as Jesse Owens, Jim Ryun and Wilma Rudolph, the Hall of Fame will pay tribute to the inclusiveness of the sport. The Hall of Fame has been designed by Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership (www.skolnick.com). This renowned Architecture and Museum Planning and Exhibition Design Firm is based in New York City.
The Hall of Fame moves to The Armory from its third home, Indianapolis. Founded in Charleston, West Virginia in 1974, the Hall moved to the Hoosier State in 1985.