New look and life for tennis museum in Newport. Love.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame (ITHOF) in Newport, RI has lifted the screen on its 3 million dollar museum renovation and WOW. The place has always fascinated those that love tennis but previously unseen treasures combined with cutting edge interactive experiences offer an amplified experience that’s a solid winner.
“This new museum…will share the stories of the sport’s legends with the world in a really exciting way, and will hopefully serve as an inspiration for the next generation of tennis greats and fans.” -Todd Martin, CEO ITHOF
Set within the former social hub of Newport’s Gilded Age – now a full tennis facility that includes court tennis – the museum shares tennis history from its origins to present day. The exhibits are divided into three distinct sections: The Birth of Tennis (1874-1918), The Popular Game (1918-1968) and the Open Era (1968-Present).
Remarkable are the depth and breadth of story telling memorabilia and the incredible passion the world has had for our game from its earliest beginnings. There’s a 1538 Flemish painting that features court tennis, a diamond studded racquet from 1884, and a 19th century racquet press (see below), as examples.
“Our goal is for visitors to leave the museum feeling educated about and inspired by the rich history of tennis.” – Douglas Stark, Museum Director, ITHOF
Add Rene Lacoste’s original blazer (1920), trophies, tennis jewelry, books, patents, tennis inspired art (Warhol++), fine art, pop memorabilia, and Battle of the Sexes gear. LOTS new added here – old world to today.
Tennis fashion continues to be a a highlight for me. Formal suits were abandoned by men when Rene Lacoste and Fred Perry hit the scene and you can see some of those looks. Ted Tingling, the visionary behind many a former champion’s on court style, ushered in short skirts and revealing styles that shocked but drew fans because they were so fashionable.
You can watch the changing styles walking through the museum, buttoned up to performance crew, long skirts to micro mini. Look for fashions for players from Perry to Chrissie Evert, Bjorn Borg, and Andre Agassi to current day competitors like Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova, Venus Williams and Rafael Nadal. Racquets to footwear, headbands to hats, its all here. Many, many more names are represented.
Interactivity is new at the museum. I loved the holographic theatre in which you stand with life sized Roger Federer who welcomes and among other tennis tidbits, tells you the top 10 reasons why he loves tennis. The ITHOF is, in fact, the first sports museum in the U.S. to use this technology. Here’s a clip on the making of this exhibit at a studio in Dubai.
I’m not going to give it away but his number one reason might be why we ALL love to play. He does do it best and on the reg. He offers some good tips too. Love this one:
“It’s not just about hitting the ball, it’s about getting there early and with proper balance, to make the shot you want.” – Roger Federer
A touch table and globe that displays real time tennis activity around the world, video walls featuring classic match clips and even more interactive elements will draw the attention and hands of all ages. Go ahead be a broadcaster and call a match…you’ll need more than a quick visit for sure.
Consider this a tennis lover’s bucket-list destination. Newport is awesome, and even better now IMHO.