The whole world is transfixed as elite athletes are celebrating their arrival at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Since childhood, I’ve been fascinated with the global camaraderie and sportsmanship that exude from the Olympics. I want my children to catch a glimpse of the Olympic spirit. Thankfully, this spirit can be felt in museums from Squaw Valley, California to Nagano, Japan. Here are the top places to go to experience both the history of the Olympics and marvel at memorabilia of the sports.
Museums with Permanent Winter Olympic Exhibits
All three hosting cities in the United States- Lake Placid, NY, Squaw Valley, CA, and Park City, UT- have Olympic focused exhibits. In addition, many museums have Olympic artifacts on display. Check out an early 1900s bobsled at the Lake Placid Olympic Museum. Have a child obsessed with skates? Catch a glimpse of Apolo Anton Ohno’s skates on display at the National Museum of American History in Washington D.C.. While in New Hampshire you can track the history not only of the New England ski scene but also its Olympic star Bode Miller. Canadians can find information about their Olympic prowess by visiting museums in the Winter Olympic host cities of Calgary and Vancouver. Vancouver’s BC Sports Hall of Fame is home to an exhibit dedicated to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, and artifacts including medals and torches. Trace Whistler’s history with the Olympics back to 1968 at the Whistler Museum in British Columbia. Whistler Museum is also hosting the family-friendly “Kiddie Apres” on Thursdays in February and March 2014. Bring the kids by for Olympic themed crafts during the month of February.
Find Museums featuring winter sports in the Eastern United States.
Winter Sports Museums
Both the United States and Canada have museums focusing on winter sports. If your kids love watching pucks fly across the ice, head to Minnesota’s U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Museum to learn about the history of Olympic hockey. Have an avid downhill racer in the family? Pop on over to the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum to tour the “Spirit of America’s Champions” exhibit showcasing Olympic skiing since its inception. Do you have a child who can float on the ice like Michelle Kwan or flip like Scott Hamilton? Colorado Springs, CO is home to the World Figure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame where visitors can explore the history of the sport and science behind those amazing leaps. Unlock the mysteries of curling at Turner Curling Museum in Weyburn, Saskatchewan and the American Curling History Museum in Chicago, Illinois. While less fanfare surrounds cross-country skiing and biathlon, they are both on exhibit at the Alf Engen Ski Museum in Utah’s Olympic Park.
International Olympic Museums
The Olympics touch the hearts of countries to the point that there are Olympic Museums dotting the globe. Germany’s Deutches Sport & Olympia Museum explores the historical and political ramifications of both the 1936 games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Berlin. Lillehammer, Norway’s hosting of the 1994 games can be experienced in the Norwegian Olympic Museum, which also showcases Olympic history dating back to 776 BC. The sites and artifacts of the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan are at the M-Wave. Italy commemorated its hosting of the winter games in Turin in 2006 with a stadium located museum and artifacts featuring cross country skier, Stefania Belmondo, and alpine skier, Piero Gros. The Sochi games exhibit will be a focus at the official Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland from January- March 2014. Permanent exhibits include artifacts from games from 1915 to the present. The Olympic Museum Network, a group of 12 museums throughout the world, is dedicated to sharing the history of the Olympics within each region and praising sportsmanship. These cultural hubs are located in: Singapore, Korea, Poland, Finland, Greece, Estonia, Belgium, Spain, Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, and China. An additional 10 museums throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America are being renovated or under construction. Stay tuned in Fall 2014 for the opening of Canada’s Richmond Experience, touted to be an interactive experiential exhibit focusing on Richmond’s part in the 2010 games in Vancouver.
Discover Canadian Museums with Winter Olympic Exhibits.
Hands-On Winter Olympic Learning
If your kids’ learning styles tend to be more kinesthetic, head to a nearby Children’s museum. These kid-focused museums are turning the Olympics into hands-on teaching moments. From reading stories about the games to participating in pint-size Olympic challenges, local museums know how to make the event come alive for kids.
Locate Children’s Museums with Winter Olympics Programs across the United States.