HALL OF FAME MUSEUMS
There are almost forty major Halls of Fame in the Great Plains region, with the greatest number in Texas (nine), Oklahoma and Kansas (six each), and Colorado (five). There are three in the Plains region of Canada.
Many of these Halls of Fame are museums, such as the National Softball Hall of Fame and Museum in Oklahoma City; the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame and the Museum of the American Cowboy in Colorado Springs; the National Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame in Sturgis, South Dakota; and the Olympic Hall of Fame and Museum in Calgary, Alberta. Some of the Halls of Fame are museums by other names, such as the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City; the National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs, Kansas; and the wonderfully titled Gallery of Also Rans in Norton, Kansas.
A number of Halls of Fame are only part of larger museums, including the Roller Skating Hall of Fame in the National Museum of Roller Skating in Lincoln, Nebraska; the International Space Hall of Fame in the Space Center in Alamogordo, New Mexico; the Petroleum Hall of Fame in the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum, Library, and Hall of Fame in Midland, Texas; and Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame in the Reynolds-Alberta Museum in Wetaskiwin, Alberta.
Sometimes Halls of Fame are housed in other types of facilities. For example, the North Dakota Sports Hall of Fame is in the Jamestown Civic Center; the United States Racquetball Hall of Fame is in the United States Racquetball Association headquarters in Colorado Springs; the National Baseball Congress Hall of Fame is in Lawrence-Dumont Stadium in Wichita, Kansas; and the National Fish Culture Hall of Fame is in the D. C. Booth Historic Fish Hatchery in Spearfish, South Dakota.
Halls of Fame take many forms. The National Hall of Fame for Famous American Indians in Anadarko, Oklahoma, is primarily an outdoor sculpture garden; the West Texas Walk of Fame is on a sidewalk outside the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center in Texas; and the Denver Broncos' Ring of Fame is displayed along the facade of Mile High Stadium. Hall of Fame facilities range from a few hundred feet, such as the 325-square-foot National Fish Culture Hall of Fame, to several hundred thousand feet, such as the 220,000-square-foot National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.
Most often, Halls of Fame are started by individuals or groups of people interested in the subject matter. They want to honor outstanding achievement, encourage the activity, and promote the area. Others are initiated by sports clubs, professional associations, or governmental bodies. Hall of fame inductees–which run from a handful to thousands–usually are honored with plaques, biographical information, photographs, and displays of memorabilia and artifacts. Some exhibits also make use of interactive displays and slide, film, and video presentations.
Many Halls of Fame are visited by only a few thousand people a year, but some are extremely popular, attracting large crowds. These include the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Museum, which has an annual attendance of 300,000, and the International Space Hall of Fame at the Space Center, which attracts about 200,000 visitors each year.
See also EDUCATION: Museums.
Victor J. Danilov University of Colorado-Boulder
Danilov, Victor J. Hall of Fame Museums: A Reference Guide. Westport CT: Greenwood Press, 1997.