Grand re-opening of ITHF Museum
May 11, 2015
NEWPORT, R.I. – After three years of planning and a $3 million renovation, the Museum at the International Tennis Hall of Fame is set to re-open to the public on May 20, with a ribbon cutting at 11:30 a.m.
The museum collection has been completely reinterpreted and the galleries have been redesigned to deliver an entirely new, engaging visitor experience. The intent of the new museum is to draw visitors into the content through interactive exhibits and a cohesive narrative of tennis history as told through the lives and careers of the 243 Hall of Famers who built the sport. More than 1,900 artifacts of tennis history are displayed throughout the exhibit galleries, ranging from Rod Laver’s first Wimbledon trophy to the golden shoes that Serena Williams wore in her first French Open victory.
Multimedia technology is integral to the new museum experience, with a highlight being a hologram of Roger Federer talking about why he loves tennis. It is the first use of holographic technology in a sports museum in the United States.
“Tennis history dates back to the 12th century and it evolves with tournaments around the world weekly. There have been extraordinary people and moments throughout the sport’s history – Arthur Ashe’s 1968 US Open victory, Billie Jean King’s Battle of the Sexes triumph, Martina and Chrissie’s rivalry and friendship, the unstoppable Australian Davis Cup teams, and so much more. This new museum at the International Tennis Hall of Fame will share the stories of the sport’s legends with the world in a really exciting way, and it will hopefully serve as an inspiration for the next generation of tennis greats and fans,” said Todd Martin, CEO of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
In creating the new museum, the Hall of Fame’s collection of more than 25,000 artifacts, and hundreds of thousands of images, videos, and publications was completely reinterpreted. The museum is designed to appeal to dedicated tennis fans and casual visitors alike, which is achieved through engaging storytelling in the museum narrative and the use of an array of objects including art, fashion, and items of historical relevance beyond the tennis courts.
“Our goal is for visitors to leave the museum feeling educated about and inspired by the rich history of tennis,” said Douglas Stark, museum director. “We designed the exhibits in a way that people could participate in the learning process together — a touch table in which you can ‘serve’ tennis history questions back and forth, video walls in which you can select match highlights and watch together, artifacts from 60 years ago and artifacts from last season so as to appeal to a span of generations, among other aspects. The new museum will provide visitors with a memorable experience in which they will learn about the history of tennis, and its impact on and off the courts.”
The new museum was funded through the Match Point Capital Campaign, which was co-chaired by Edgar Woolard and Christopher Clouser, chairman of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The campaign, which was the Hall of Fame’s first in 14 years, has raised $14.8 million of the $15 million goal. The museum project is a highlight of the campaign, which will also result in a new indoor tennis facility, new office and retail space, new grandstands in Bill Talbert Center Court, and other improvements to the Hall of Fame property, all of which are slated to open in 2015-2016.
“The International Tennis Hall of Fame is committed to serving the sport of tennis by preserving and promoting its great history, and the new museum is an extraordinary representation of this,” commented Clouser. “We are grateful to the donors who share in our passion for tennis and supported the capital campaign to make this world-class museum a reality. It would not have been possible without the support of so many who have helped us build the museum content – Roger Federer’s time on the hologram, Hall of Famers who donated artifacts, the ATP, WTA, ITF, the Grand Slams, and our incredibly hard-working staff and the talented museum development vendors. We are set to deliver a tremendous museum experience and we are appreciative to all who have made this happen.”
Rolex, a long time supporter of the International Tennis Hall of Fame and a highly engaged sponsor in tennis worldwide, has committed to a new, multi-year partnership with the museum.
The Roger Federer Experience
A highlight of the new museum will be a holographic theatre in which visitors feel as though they are in the room with Roger Federer, one of the sport’s all-time greatest champions. When visitors walk into the theatre, the hologram of Federer welcomes visitors and begins a dynamic monologue about a topic that museum visitors and Federer have in common – a love of tennis. Federer then takes the visitor through his top-10 list of the reasons why he loves the sport, ranging from the athletic beauty of tennis to the challenge of it being an individual sport, all while showcasing a few of his signature shots.
“It was an honor to be asked to be the hologram at the International Tennis Hall of Fame and I was quite happy to take on the project,” commented Federer. “I’ve always had an interest in the history of our sport and I believe we’ve been fortunate to be able to learn from and build on that history. The Hall of Fame does a tremendous job of preserving our sport’s history and celebrating it with the world. I’m glad to be able to support those efforts by helping to create a fun experience in their museum.”
An Interactive Museum Experience
Interactive, educational experiences abound throughout the new museum.
Tennis aficionados can test their knowledge of the sport on a five-foot touch table at which they can stand at either end and “serve “ tennis history questions back and forth to each other.
The “Call the Match” exhibit offers visitors the chance to record themselves taking on the role of broadcast luminaries like Cliff Drysdale, John Barrett, and Mary Carillo.
A large, rotating globe highlights the worldwide impact of the sport. At the globe, visitors can select a nation to learn more about tennis tournaments taking place there in any given week, and about the players and tournaments from that nation.
Interactive video walls throughout the museum offer fans an opportunity to re-live classic tennis moments through video highlights of WTA, ATP, and Grand Slam tournament matches.
The new museum tells the story of tennis history from its origins through present-day. Objects throughout the narrative are clearly linked to the Hall of Famers, personalizing their stories within the sport’s history.
The museum is divided into three chronological areas: The Birth of Tennis (1874 – 1918); The Popular Game (1918 – 1968); and The Open Era (1968 – Present).
Themes of focus include the sport’s evolution from medieval monasteries to lawn tennis, the development of early international tournaments and early pro tours, infusion of tennis in pop culture and the rise of celebrity among athletes, the impact of technology on the sport in terms of equipment and media coverage, the dawn of the Open Era ,and the growth of the WTA and ATP tours. The museum narrative also examines the sport’s forays into social matters, including politics, diversity, and the rise of women’s game.
The Grand Slam Gallery shares detail on the sport’s four majors, their champions, and their most iconic moments. The Global Tennis Community Gallery examines the sport’s broad global impact, with focus on the Olympic Games, Fed Cup and Davis Cup, and Wheelchair Tennis. The interactive globe is a centerpiece of this gallery.
In addition to the three chronological areas, there are two galleries specifically dedicated to the Hall of Famers. The Woolard Family Enshrinement Gallery pays tribute to all 243 Hall of Famers through interactive kiosks featuring photos, videos, and records. The Rosalind P. Walter Tribute Gallery to the Hall of Famers will be a multimedia gallery dedicated to the current year’s class of inductees.
Additional detail on the exhibits and the artifacts within each is highlighted on the Hall of Fame’s website, tennisfame.com. A new Hall of Fame website will be launched later this month.
The Newport Casino’s architecture revealed
A primary goal of the museum renovation was to better showcase the Newport Casino, the National Historic Landmark buildings and grounds in which the Hall of Fame is located. Through the renovation, three magnificent fireplaces that had been covered by temporary walls for 25 yeas have been revealed. Additionally, original furnishings from the building, which was built in 1880, are exhibited. The exhibits and display cases in the new museum are positioned within the original design of the building to showcase the architecture as part of the museum experience.
Tennis History Evolves Daily
Tennis records have the potential to be set and broken with weekly tournaments around the world, and future Hall of Famers are constantly adding to their resumes.
As such, the new museum goes beyond focusing on the sport’s past, but also serves as a resource to showcase the sport today and how it is constantly evolving. The new museum will feature a number of items from current and recently retired player’s careers. Grand Slam apparel worn by Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, and Jelena Jankovic is showcased in the museum, as are the shoes worn by Andy Roddick in his last match, among many other recently acquired items.
The Art of Tennis
From Maria Bueno’s grace on court to Roger Federer’s elegant shot making, it’s not uncommon for tennis to be commended for its beautiful, art-like nature. As such, the sport has served as an inspiration for a variety of mediums, and a range of tennis-inspired art is shown throughout the new museum.
A 1538 Renaissance painting that is believed to be the earliest known painting of the sport is a highlight. Visitors will also see an original Andy Warhol portrait of Chris Evert, one of an exclusive series of 10 sport superstars of the 1970s. Prints created by celebrated American painter George Bellows are exhibited as well. A bronze resin sculpture of Steffi Graf capturing her in motion and forever memorializing her distinctive and lethal inside-out forehand is also a highlight of the art collection.
Stained glass featuring tennis players, vintage advertising, varied colorful prints, and a display of more than 100 vintage tennis ball cans also showcase the sport in an artistic means.
A large team of exhibit designers, media producers, and contractors have been working on the museum renovation at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Development of the museum experience was lead by Douglas Stark, museum director. Additionally, a 12-person Museum Committee was integral to the project. The committee was chaired by Katherine Burton Jones and Jefferson T. Barnes served as vice-chair.
Exhibit Design: HealyKohler Design, Takoma Park, Maryland
Exhibit Fabrication and Case Work: 1220 Exhibits, Nashville, Tennessee
Media Production, including holographic theater: Cortina Productions, McLean, Virginia
General Contractor: Behan Bros., Inc., Middletown, Rhode Island
Opening the Doors!
The museum will officially re-open on Wednesday, May 20 with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 11:30 a.m.
Beginning May 21, the Hall of Fame will return to its normal hours, open daily, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. The museum will stay open until 6 p.m. in July and August.
As part of the Hall of Fame’s commitment to inspiring and engaging children with tennis, admission to visit the museum is free of charge for children ages 16 & Under. Admission is $15 for adults, $12 for students, senior, and military.
The museum experience is self-guided, or visitors may opt to purchase an audio tour for $3. The audio tour is available in multiple languages, and is narrated by Hall of Famers, adding a fun twist to the visitor experience. In June, July, and August, guided tours will be offered daily at 11 am and 2 pm.
For additional information, visit tennisfame.com or call 401-849-3990. The Hall of Fame will be launching new website later this month to coincide with the museum’s grand re-opening.