Friday, October 16, 2009

The National Museum of Racing in Saratoga Springs, NY

Jane Murray, Director of Services for TRA, rides like a jockey on the mechanical horse at the
National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

A highlight of my recent trip to Saratoga was a visit to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Along with other participants at the International Simulcast Conference held in Saratoga Springs, I attended a special reception and tour of the museum. I felt like a kid in a candy shop for the two hours I was there and could have spent an entire day wandering through the many exhibits and galleries. Of special interest were the life-size replications of a jockeys room, jockey scale, and racing office.

Jocks Room museum exhibitLife-size jocks room exhibit, National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

Jockey scales, National Racing MuseumLife-size jockey scale exhibit, National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

According to the official museum guide, the National Museum of Racing was established in 1950 by a group of prominent racing people led by Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney. The museum first opened in 1951 in a temporary location at the Canfield Casino in Congress Park. Four years later, the museum moved to a newly constructed facility at 191 Union Avenue, directly across the street from the racecourse. The location for the new museum was a section of a lot first developed in 1894 by Joseph J. Gleason, a famous bookmaker of the time known as "one, two, three Gleason."

National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame welcome deskJennifer L. Rickman, Operations Manager, welcomes guests
to the National Museum of Racing.

The National Museum of Racing opened to the public on June 2, 1956. In 1979, the Hall of Fame wing was added. Today, the museum runs a formal outreach program with traveling Hall of Fame kiosks, an interractive traveling exhibit for children, curriculum and educational materials for schools, and a website. The unique horse racing simulator was developed and opened to the public in 2006.

The National Museum of Racing is definitely an attraction not to be missed when visiting Saratoga!


Judy said...

Great article and pictures! Glad you got to visit it. It is a special place. It's been one of the highlights of my trips to Saratoga.

Marion E. Altieri said...

Great review of the Museum, Mary! I was at the conference, also, and remember your name. The Museum is my favorite museum on the planet--whenever I can't write, the Muse just won't visit--I take my laptop to the Museum and just SIT amongst the spirits of all those great horses and humans, and...voila! The Muse arrives. Every fan of the sport should visit the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. And those who have not-yet joined the throngs of us who love Thoroughbreds and the sport of racing them would benefit from visiting the Museum: one single visit to the Racing Museum can turn ANYone into a devoted racing fan. :) Thank you for loving our Museum, Mary, and for your enthusiastic review. (I wrote, "our" because I write about racing--I'm a rabid fan--and, as a Saratogian, I'm very proud of the place.) May the Horse be with you!!

Anonymous said...

As the area continues to grow and Saratoga continues to pull back on "over development, our area is going to be teaming with new local area history seekers. Myself, growing up in the area,riding horses (nothing over 10 MPH! - unless "Spooked!")I've had some privilages a lot of people will never have!

The Race Track @ Saratoga has so much history! Not only in the Mueseum at this time as there are some "Old-timers" still around that can tell a story or two! But what happends after these people pass on? Is it the "END of our Rich History?" I think having such a place as this Mueseum of Racing is only going to expand if anything and young eyes are going to gaze with amazement! Way to go! "Two-Thumbs UP!"

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