ORDA offers sneak peek at new Olympic Museum

This artist’s rendering shows what the new Lake Placid Olympic Museum will look like when it reopens in the fall at the Olympic Center. (Photo provided)

LAKE PLACID — Looking at the Olympic Center’s new connector building between the 1932 and 1980 arenas, it’s difficult to imagine what the new home of the Lake Placid Olympic Museum will look like. This week, however, the state Olympic Regional Development Authority unveiled some artist renderings of the exhibit space when construction of the building is complete this fall.

The old connector building was gutted last year, leaving just the frame, and a new and improved building has been slowly going up. In front will be the Miracle Plaza, and inside the lobby will be a new ORDA Store and the Lake Placid Olympic Museum on the first floor. The second floor will include a new restaurant.

Prior to construction, more than 30,000 artifacts from the Lake Placid Olympic Museum were moved to the Lake Placid Conference Center. There on the second floor, visitors can see a temporary exhibit this summer called “Totally 80s: 80 Heirlooms from the 80 Olympics.” Admission is free.

The old museum included some low-tech interactive activities, seasonal and permanent exhibits, audio and video components and plenty of artifacts from the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Winter Games. One of the most popular exhibits was the one for the “Miracle on Ice” hockey game in 1980 when the U.S. team beat the Soviet Union 4-3 on its way to winning the gold-medal game against Finland. Visitors could sit down and watch the game on a TV.

There will also be multimedia exhibits in the new museum, according to Museum Director Alison Haas.

Work continued Monday, June 20, on the Olympic Center’s connector building, where the new Lake Placid Olympic Museum will be housed. (News photo — Andy Flynn)

“We want to try to engage our visitors in a variety of different ways,” she said Wednesday, June 22.

One area will have an audio component.

“And that will be about the Olympic Anthem,” Haas said. “It introduces the different versions of what you’re used to hearing for the Olympics.”

Museum staffers are working with a film production company in Richmond, Virginia called Orange Frame for a video on Olympians who live in the region.

“We’ve interviewed just under a dozen of our local Olympians to incorporate their stories of what it takes to be an Olympian,” Haas said.

Those local Olympians include luger Jayson Terdiman, bobsledder John Napier, biathlete Andrea Henkel Burke and figure skater Paul Wylie.

Museum staffers are also working with Hadley Exhibits in Buffalo to create high-tech interactive activities.

“What it feels like to be in a bobsled and a perspective of a ski jumper,” Haas said.

A special design section will include original sketches of Roni Raccoon, the mascot for the 1980 Olympic Winter Games.

“It’s our goal to really inspire our visitors and to find that passion within themselves of whatever it may be to go on and do great things,” Haas said.

A grand opening of the new Lake Placid Olympic Museum is expected to take place in late fall.

ORDA officials this week also released the museum’s new logo, which was inspired by the 1980 Winter Olympic cauldron, currently located between the North Elba Show Grounds and the Lake Placid Central School District athletic fields on state Route 73. The 1980 Olympic opening ceremony took place where the athletic fields are now located.

The logo identity is a major step in the transformation of the museum space and visibility to the public, according to a press release.

“This planning process as well as the colors, symbolism, and other design elements of the logo are the culmination of a careful collaboration among the museum’s Board of Directors, staff, and the ORDA art director, making the unveiling and the future opening of the museum highly anticipated events,” the press release stated.

“We are fortunate to be the keepers of the world’s second largest collection of Winter Olympic artifacts,” Museum Board President Jonathan Becker said in the release. “Along with the new spaces our purpose is evolving and expanding. We are here to inspire as well as to educate by creating an immersive adventure into history that helps visitors experience the spirit of the Olympic Games.”

Museum staff have offered virtual education programs to K-12 students across the state during the coronavirus pandemic. This outreach is expected to continue.

The museum was recently awarded a $5,000 grant from a partnership of the New York State Council on the Arts and the Museum Association of New York to help staff enhance educational programming for grades 3 through 8.

“We are grateful for this funding to help us inspire a whole new generation with the stories of our Olympic history,” Haas said in a press release. “This support allows us to map out an engaging curriculum and invest in the technology to deliver it in the classroom in the best way possible.”

A new website is also being developed for the Lake Placid Olympic Museum.

For more information about the Olympic venues ORDA operates in Lake Placid and Wilmington, visit lakeplacidlegacysites.com.

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