Colorado Springs is home of the U.S. Olympic Committee’s headquarters and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center. And now with the opening of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum & Hall of Fame, the town has achieved the Olympic trifecta.
The museum offers a behind-the-scenes look at the Olympics and Olympians. It’s a permanent tribute to the history and commitment of Team USA athletes in pursuit of Olympic and Paralympic glory.
The 60,000 square foot building boasts a dynamic design, state-of-the-art technology and a wealth of interactive experiences. Within its spiraling formation, visitors descend the galleries on one continuous and accessible, ramped pathway.
Upon arrival, you’ll be given a badge that interacts with the displays. This credential is enhanced with radio-frequency identification, which accommodates user preferences, creating a highly personalized experience.
The Hall of Fame is the first of the museum’s twelve galleries. Among this noted group are individual Olympians and Paralympians, teams, coaches and special contributors.
The other galleries include: Introduction to the Games; Athlete Training; The Lab; Parade of Nations; Summer Games & Winter Games; The World Watches; Medal Collection; Theater; Medal Ceremony; and Rotating Gallery.
Introduction to the Games presents the history of the ancient Games and the origins of the modern Olympic and Paralympics. The highlight in this gallery is the collection of Olympic torches, dating back to 1936 when the first Olympic torch relay occurred. Another interesting exhibit is the interactive map, which displays the hometowns of all 12,174 Team USA athletes, who have competed in the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
In Athlete Training, visitors can try several interactive sport demonstrations, including the 30-meter dash, alpine skiing, archery, goalball, skeleton and sled hockey. Bring your A game, as you test your skills.
Science and technology take center stage in The Lab, where you’ll learn how athletes maximize their performance in training and competition. The technological advancements in equipment, including prosthetic limbs, as well as rehab and recovery methods are remarkable.
Another highlight of the museum is the Parade of Nations. Visitors walk through a darkened tunnel before entering a 360-degree, multimedia experience that simulates the Parade of Nations during an Opening Ceremony. The excitement is palpable, as you take in this colorful pageantry.
The Summer Games & Winter Games gallery features stories, artifacts, and autographed items, along with interactive walls detailing information on each of the Olympic sports. Objects on display include everything from Joe Frazier’s boxing shoes to Shannon Miller’s scrunchie, and even the final scoreboard from the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” hockey game between the U.S. and Russia.
The World Watches focuses on the Games’ impact on history and culture. Exhibits delve into the global political and societal influences on the Games, as well as the impacts the Games themselves have had on the world. The museum doesn’t ignore the more serious sides of the Olympics, such as the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games and the 1972 Munich Massacre.
Before heading into the Theater, you’ll pass through the Medal Collection. This exhibit showcases the different styles of medals over the years, dating back to the 1896 Games in Athens.
The Theater features the film, “To Take Part,” which highlights some of the best stories of Team USA athletes. And in the final gallery, Medal Ceremony, video from past Games captures moving moments on the podium for Team USA athletes.
Debbie Stone is a regular travel column contributor and former Woodinville Weekly feature writer.