Few athletes have been as transcendent of their sport as Jackie Robinson. As the first Black baseball player in Major League Baseball, Robinson married a stellar career on the field with advocacy for civil rights. Now (after a few speed bumps), a museum honoring his life is finally open.
The Jackie Robinson Museum in New York City boasts 20,000 square feet of history and tells Robinson’s story through interactive exhibits, memorabilia, and more. Walk into a room and you’ll see a scale model of Ebbets Field, where Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers played. Other areas house over 4500 artifacts from Robinson’s life and career, 40,000 images, and over 450 hours of footage.
Robinson, who died in 1972, broke baseball’s color barrier on April 15, 1947 when he signed with the Dodgers. He appeared in six World Series and later became a vice-president of personnel for Chock Full O’ Nuts coffee, as well as a television broadcast analyst. Robinson used his visibility to draw attention to the civil rights movement, raising money for the NAACP and helping to secure bail money for jailed activists. Robinson even held jazz concerts in his backyard, inviting legends like Dizzy Gillespie to play and collecting admission to donate. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at one of the gatherings; Robinson walked in the March on Washington in 1963, which culminated in King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
The museum was announced back in 2008, but funding issues and the pandemic kept extending its timetable. The Jackie Robinson Foundation eventually raised $38 million for the project. Organizers also wanted to make sure it matched the vision of his widow, Rachel Robinson, who wanted it to be as much a cultural gathering place to spark conversations about equality as a showcase for Robinson’s storied life.
The museum, which had a soft open in late July, will be open to the general public beginning Monday, September 5. Tickets are $18 for adults and $15 for children.
[h/t Travel + Leisure]