Bill Baker 1980 hockey jersey (National Museum of American History)
Smithsonian curators started collecting Olympic artifacts in earnest in the 1970s and ’80s, originally with an eye to the most famous and uncontroversial medal winners. But over the last 20 years, collecting has evolved to document the diversity of athletes and their compelling Olympic appearances. From the Miracle on Ice and Dominique Dawes to recent acquisitions from Tommie Smith, fencer Ibtihaj Mohammad, and the Paralympics and Special Olympics, the Smithsonian’s Olympic collection tells a broad range of stories.
As history is made at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo join Kenneth Cohen, Edward and Helen Hintz secretarial scholar and curator at the National Museum of American History, and director of the museum studies program at the University of Delaware, for an engaging tour of what’s in the Smithsonian’s Olympic collections—and what’s not—as well as a look at how Smithsonian curators might approach the Games this year and beyond.
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