SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame will reopen to the public on Saturday, Sept. 5 at 9 a.m. The Museum has been closed since January for the installation of a new state-of-the-art Hall of Fame experience as well as multiple new and updated exhibitions. The Museum has put in place a number of enhanced safety protocols in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and is a Saratoga Cares Stay Safe Pledge institution with a commitment to the health of Saratoga County residents, workers, and visitors.
The Museum will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The new signature film, What It Takes: Journey to the Hall of Fame, will initially be shown at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. daily. Per New York State health policies, the Museum will open with a maximum of 24 visitors admitted every two hours. Guests are encouraged to purchase tickets online at www.racingmuseum.org beginning Aug. 31. Hand sanitizer stations will be available throughout the Museum and the floor has been marked to create an easy-to-follow route through the building, with added markers reminding guests to practice social distancing. Face coverings are mandatory for all guests. Museum members have special access to make reservations before the general public beginning today through Aug. 28. Members wishing to do so are invited to call (518) 584-0400 ext. 109.
“We’re very excited to be open to the public and have the opportunity to share with everyone all the incredible projects that we’ve been working on,” said John Hendrickson, the Museum’s president. “We set out with an ambitious goal of being the best and most interactive hall of fame in the country. I believe we have accomplished that goal. Our great sport deserves a showcase venue that everyone can be proud of. This is a game-changer for the Museum and it is everything we hoped it would be when we began the process to reimagine and enliven our institution. The Museum is now an essential destination that can’t be missed.”
What It Takes: Journey to the Hall of Fame is a 16-minute film that brings viewers on an amazing journey through the various aspects of thoroughbred racing and examines the rare honor — given to less than one percent of the sport’s participants — of reaching the game’s pinnacle and earning a coveted spot in the Hall of Fame. The immersive theatrical experience conveys the exhilaration of the sport of thoroughbred racing in America, the passion behind the heritage of the game, and the thrill of exploring the stories of “what it takes” to be among the greatest of the greats in the Hall of Fame.
Filmed and produced by Donna Lawrence Productions of Louisville, Ky., and narrated by famed broadcaster Bob Costas, What It Takes: Journey to the Hall of Fame, features original footage shot in 8K resolution from various racetracks and thoroughbred farms throughout the country. Numerous Hall of Fame inductees are highlighted in revealing interviews about their experience in the sport and what it took for them to earn racing’s highest honor. Hall of Famers featured include Bob Baffert, Javier Castellano, Angel Cordero, Jr., Pat Day, D. Wayne Lukas, Richard Mandella, Chris McCarron, Shug McGaughey, Bill Mott, Carl Nafzger, Mike Smith, Gary Stevens, and John Velazquez, among others.
Following the film, guests are invited to learn about the careers of the Hall of Fame inductees on the theater’s nine interactive stations. Each of the 459 Hall of Fame inductees are represented through an in-depth digital plaque, media gallery, and achievements page. More than 100 videos and 2,100 photographs are included in the interactive Hall of Fame exhibit with more media content to be added and updated regularly. Each visitor will be provided a stylus with admission to use on all the touchscreen interactive exhibits throughout the Museum.
Along with the new signature film and interactive Hall of Fame experience, the Museum has made several other exciting new additions and updates. Some of those include:
Race Day Gallery
The Museum’s new Race Day Gallery provides both a gateway to build excitement for the Hall of Fame experience and a transition for visitors following the show. Three areas of the racetrack experience are featured — The Paddock, The Track, and The Winner’s Circle — introducing visitors to the essential elements of a day at the races.
The Paddock section explores the relationship between racehorses and their human connections prior to a race. Artifact cases showcase the equipment used during races, while large graphics and a slideshow of images from the Museum Collection illustrate the beauty of various paddocks at American racetracks. The Track section is where America’s most famous racing venues are highlighted, noting their historical significance through the use of imagery, graphics, and artifacts that showcase the unique characteristics of each course. A cross-section of racing surfaces is also on display in The Track to educate visitors on the unique composition of America’s racetracks. The Winner’s Circle area allows visitors the opportunity to bask in the joy and glory of being a champion while viewing memorable winner’s circle photographs and an historic trophy from the collection. The Winner’s Circle also provides a memorable photo opportunity with a sculptural horse and rider.
The Race Day Gallery also features a mural by artist Greg Montgomery and a lush soundscape that adds detail and ambiance to the experience through the use of traditional sound elements found at the track, including famous race calls.
Call the Race
Museum guests will have the opportunity to call some of the sport’s most famous events just like a professional track announcer in a new interactive exhibit located in the Race Day Gallery. Featuring an introduction by legendary racecaller Tom Durkin, Call the Race provides guests an opportunity to study the race’s video before making the call. Each race is digitally recorded and can be downloaded to keep and relive the experience and share with others.
The Jockey Club Gallery
Since 1894, The Jockey Club’s primary responsibility has been the maintenance of “The American Stud Book,” ensuring the integrity of the thoroughbred breed in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. The new Jockey Club Gallery transforms the Museum’s previous changing special exhibition space (Contemporary Racing Gallery) into a new exhibition devoted to The Jockey Club and its contributions to racing in America. As part of the Hall of Fame Education Experience, The Jockey Club Gallery will feature artifacts and archival materials from The Jockey Club’s collection on loan to the Museum and two interactive touchscreen stations filled with multimedia content on the history of the organization, the services it provides the racing industry, selected race footage and statistics, and the digitized certificates of registration and foal photographs (submitted in the registration process) of some of the sport’s greatest thoroughbreds.
The Paintings of Martin Stainforth
British-born Martin Stainforth (1866 ̶ 1957) began his career as a wood engraver but turned to illustration before moving to Australia in the early 1900s. He took an interest in the thoroughbred racing scene in 1911 while living in Sydney and became known as the preeminent equine artist in Australia, receiving portrait commissions from owners and racing associations.
Known for his realism and ability to capture the personality of his subjects, Stainforth moved to the United States in the mid-1920s and continued to paint the likenesses of some of the top racehorses of that era, including the Hall of Fame members featured in this Museum collection spotlight exhibition in the Link Gallery.
Photo Finish: Juried Photography Exhibition
Amateur and professional photographers from across North America submitted 183 photographs for consideration in our call for submissions, with the only requirement being that their images must reflect the sport of thoroughbred racing in America. This second annual Photo Finish exhibition in the Museum’s von Stade Gallery features 45 photographs by 34 photographers from 13 states and one Canadian province. An additional 26 photographs will be featured in the online exhibition, bringing the total representation of this second annual exhibition to 71 photographers from 19 states and one Canadian province.
Edward P. Evans Gallery current exhibitions
The Edward P. Evans Gallery showcases treasures from the Museum’s permanent collection and honors the legacy of Mr. Evans and his passion for the sport of thoroughbred racing with a series of thematic trophic exhibits. Current featured exhibits include:
- Selections from the Edward P. Evans Trophy Collection
- The Triple Crown
- Selections from the James E. “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons Collection: trophies from the Hall of Fame trainer’s career, including the trophy won by Nashua in his 1955 match race against Swaps at Washington Park
- The Legacy of Man o’ War: trophies won by descendants of Hall of Fame legend Man o’ War, including the 1937 Triple Crown trophy won by his son War Admiral
- The Grand National: examples of trophies from the American and British editions of this major steeplechase event
- Tiffany & Co. in the National Museum of Racing Collection
- A Salute to Hollywood Park
- *NEW for 2020* Seventy Years Ago: highlighting the racing achievements of 1950 and showcasing trophies won by Hall of Fame Pillar of the Turf George D. Widener, Jr. (including the 1950 Travers Stakes trophy won by Lights Up) and the 1950 San Juan Capistrano Handicap trophy won by Hall of Fame horse Noor, among others.
McBean Gallery current exhibitions
Located off of the Museum Lobby, the McBean Gallery is the Museum’s main special exhibitions gallery and hosts three distinct exhibitions. Current featured exhibits include:
- Women in Racing: featuring an interactive exhibit, a timeline of firsts, artifacts, photographs, and artwork from the Museum Collection and on loan, this special exhibition honors the women involved in every aspect of thoroughbred racing in America, including the seven who are inducted into the Hall of Fame.
- Hall of Fame Heroes: this semi-permanent exhibition celebrates the horses, trainers, jockeys, and Pillars of the Turf who made the sport of thoroughbred racing what it is today, with art, memorabilia, and multimedia on display. Hall of Fame Heroes also features trophies from the John Nerud collection.
- Paintings from the Charles H. Thieriot Collection: this permanent exhibition features paintings by masters of British sporting art, including two monumental works by John E. Ferneley, Sr.
New Gift Shop
The Museum’s Gift Shop has been completely redesigned and features an extensive selection of racing-themed products, including clothing, books, photography, artwork, items related to Hall of Fame members, and much more. Museum members always receive 15 percent off their purchases.
For more information about the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, including upcoming events, please visit www.racingmuseum.org or call (518) 584-0400.