The National Museum for Speed Skating and Hall of Fame has finally found a home at the Olympic Oval in Kearns, Utah. US Speedskating partnered with local civic groups in 2018 to build a modern workout center they call The Element, with space for therapy rooms, offices for coaches and trainers, a spacious area for weight-training, a huge modern kitchen/nutrition center, and meeting rooms, all with large windows with views of the mountains, showing off the beauty of the area.
Mary Wong is currently heading the Museum and Hall of Fame committee. The creation of a museum space depends on cooperation with US Speedskating, the US Speedskating Hall of Fame Task Force, Amateur Speedskating Union Foundation, the Museum and Hall of Fame committee, and the City of Kearns, who has final say in what can be installed in public spaces at the building.
The presentation for the Speedskating Museum was created by the design team that installed the exhibits at the Alf Engen Ski Museum at Park City. Once the City of Kearns approves the use of the 2nd floor areas the next step will be, of course, fundraising! Please check back here to see how the proposed exhibits are shaping up. We hope we can start installing in the upstairs hallway and large open area at the top of the stairs in mid 2021, pending funding. Eventually, we hope to install exhibits at the Pettit in Milwaukee, and perhaps some traveling exhibits to loan.
HISTORY OF THE MUSEUM
The Speedskating Hall of Fame Committee was first established at the Amateur Skating Union’s annual convention on May 15, 1959. The original Speed Skating Hall of Fame opened in Newburgh, New York in the early 1960s through the dedication of Joseph Monihan, the museum’s first curator. Monihan was born in 1890. He served in WWI and was active in the New York National Guard through the 1930s. He was a supervisor for the Fabrikoid company, an early manufacturer of fake leather. His love of speedskating was inspired by Joseph Donohue to the point that he celebrated Donohue’s birthday each year with a visit to the Donohue gravesite. The Amateur Speedskating Union of the US and the Newburgh Lions Club helped Monihan assemble and curate a collection of skating memorabilia displayed at the Columbus Bank building. It was relocated to a building at Delano-Hitch in 1974, the land being donated to the city by Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s aunt Annie Delano-Hitch. For reasons that are lost, the museum was again in boxes stored by the Lyon’s Club of Newburgh, with a small display set up at the Time Sports Complex in Newburgh, featuring local skaters who had achieved fame. Mike Afholter of the ASU met with representatives of the Lyon’s club in 1999 to assure them that the artifacts would be cared for so they could be moved to a new facility.
The ASU teamed up with skaters in Saratoga Springs to create a new museum space and house the archive of over a thousand artifacts. The National Museum and Hall of Fame obtained non-profit status and appointed curator George Garner to create a museum. Saratoga area skaters raised a significant amount of funds, but the museum moved once again, this time to the Pettit Center in Milwaukee. The Hall of Fame committee of the ASU put up a display of Hall of Fame member photos that take up a wall on the second floor of the Petit Center, called the “Wall of Fame”. A small number of artifacts were on display in a glass case. The volunteers did catalogue and photograph all of the items.
Currently? Over 100 boxes of items are in storage. Many paper items have been digitized. Other items will deteriorate over time, in spite of careful storage. The best items are the ones that can tell the story of speedskating. Funds do not allow us to keep and store everything. We will keep just the best items, and the rest will have to find other homes.
The Hall of Fame Museum Committee does not induct new members into the Hall of Fame. For information about Hall of Fame selection process, please contact USSpeedskating, or click here.
Lake Placid has a separate exhibit on Speed Skating: “Quest for Speed” which features various displays explaining the history of the sport and its origins and impact in Lake Placid.
To donate directly to the Museum and Hall of Fame, please contact us via the Contact Page.
Former president of the Amateur Skating Union, and HOF Committee Member Tom Porter was asked why the Hall of Fame Museum is important. He said it is “the only institution dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of [speed skating]. Skaters need to see there are other people who have been involved in speedskating over the years besides them—that it isn’t something that just happened yesterday.” He adds, “You want to be able to recognize people who have done well in the sport; people that have given a lot to make the sport what it is. I think that’s why you want to have a Hall of Fame. There has to be someplace that people can go to find those things out so it doesn’t get lost.”