Monday, January 4, 2010

The Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum

Tucked in the small hallway within the Box Office entrance of the Olympic Center in Lake Placid, is the 1932 and 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum. The museum is a fantastic way to spend an afternoon examining the unique artifacts and learning more about the amazing Olympic History of Lake Placid.

The Museum was established after the 1980 Olympics, and was originally located in the former Aromaround café. The circular building used to be known as the Austrian House, and proudly displayed Olympic artifacts. In the 1990s, the Museum entered an agreement with the Olympic Regional Development Authority, and stayed in the location where it is today. The goal of the Museum is to celebrate Lake Placid’s unique Olympic heritage while collecting and preserving Olympic artifacts and archival materials associated with Lake Placid’s Olympic history.

So who visits the Winter Olympic Museum? Visitors of all ages can find something of interest here, from the sparkly figure skating outfits of yesteryear, to the stuffed Mascots from each Olympic Games, and even the original “Ronnie the Raccoon” Mascot costume from the 1980 Games. As for the amount of visits the museum receives, the number varies. “We can have 1500 people in one week, or we can have 100 visitors in a week”, said Olympic Museum Archivist Allison Haas. “It all depends on the season, holidays, or weather.”

The first medal awarded ever in a Winter Olympics (the gold medal won by Charles Jewtraw, a local speed skater, for the 500 Meter race in the 1924 Olympics in Chamonix, France) is proudly displayed in the first part of the museum, on loan from the Smithsonian. A complete collection of participant medals from every summer and winter Olympics are displayed, along with over 2 dozen prize medals from Olympic Games, (including a medal from the 2006 Torino Games).

There is also an impressive Olympic torch collection. For fans of the “Miracle on Ice”, the complete video recording of the game is played daily at the Museum, and the actual 1980 hockey goal guarded by Jim Craig, along with his goalie equipment, stands nearby. A newer feature of the “Miracle on Ice” collection are props and costumes used in the making of the Disney movie “Miracle”, based on the famous showdown between the US and Soviet team.

So what makes the 1932 and 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum such an important and interesting part of Lake Placid? “The museum is all about education, to teach the public about the Olympic history of Lake Placid”, said Allison Haas. “We also collect and preserve important artifacts for future generations to appreciate the Olympics.”

The Museum is open every day from 10-5; for more information, check out the Olympic Regional Development Authority’s website or call 518-523-1655, extension 226.

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