The Olympic and Paralympic Games capture our hearts every two years, with athletes putting their agility on the line for their country. But just because the Games don't occur all the time, it doesn't mean you can't relive the excitement throughout the year.
With 60,000 square feet of space, the new U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum is a cultural facility at the heart of Olympic City USA in Colorado Springs, fitting right in with the headquarters of the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee, U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center and nearly two dozen National Governing Bodies.
The museum showcases the history of Team USA at the Olympic and Paralympic Games with artifacts, interactive storytelling, media and impressive technology that embody the Olympic and Paralympic movements. Exhibits take visitors on a journey through the personal struggles and career-defining moments of Team USA's athletes. Due to impressive and cutting-edge design, the building has maximum accessibility and is inclusive for all visitors and is chock-full of interactive experiences, awesome architecture and more.
See one-of-a-kind artifacts
The exhibits housed in this architectural gem showcase the evolution of the Games, from their birth in ancient Olympia to the current Team USA hopefuls who are training just around the corner. You can walk along walls lined with more than 150 Olympic and Paralympic medals that were awarded to athletes for competition over the course of history or view the impressive collection of 48 Olympic and Paralympic torches.
The museum is also home to the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” scoreboard from the incredible U.S. men's ice hockey team's victory against the Soviet Union and the Night Train bobsled, the famous plain-black prototype that the U.S. men's bobsled team used in 2010. Plus, training schedules, tickets, competition numbers, photographs, ribbons, uniforms, warm-ups and equipment round out the collection — meaning you'll be able to spend hours among the display cases, snapping photos and simply enjoying the Olympic and Paralympic spirit.
The museum offers an interactive, inclusive and personalized experience for all ages
This museum has 20,000 square feet of interactive exhibit space and is one of the most physically-accessible museums in the world, so you’re able to indulge in everything Olympics. Be sure to wear your favorite Team USA gear and feel the excitement of walking into the stadium at the Opening Ceremony in the Parade of Nations — the buzz is infectious. Or in the Winter Games gallery, see the slope of the building become the angled icy slant of winter events decorated with bobsleds, snowboards and skeleton sleds.
The state-of-the-art theater is host to programs that can further your knowledge of the big event and immerse you in the day-to-day struggles of being a Team USA athlete. In continuing with the accessibility aspects of the venue, guests receive a personalized electronic RFID tag upon entrance, featuring information about their particular needs and preferences, and many of the exhibits will automatically adjust to meet those requirements. As the years go by, the museum will grow and evolve alongside future Games — meaning there will always be something new for return visitors to explore.
Check out the building's eye-catching architecture
The museum rises in front of mountain peaks with the grace of an athlete, with its design inspired by the energy of the Olympic and Paralympic athletes in competition. Notice it in the angles and sways of the building — is that a ski slope or a balance beam? As they travel between each exhibit, visitors can admire breathtaking views of Colorado Springs through the gallery's floor-to-ceiling windows or from the outdoor patio. And, if you're hungry, there is an on-site cafe serving up delicious meals. The location acts as an anchor for the new Southwest Downtown Urban Renewal District, forming an axis that links downtown Colorado Springs with America the Beautiful Park to the west.
Stay in Colorado Springs to extend your trip
Visiting the museum is just the tip of the Team USA iceberg in Colorado Springs. Visitors can take a tour of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center to see where athletes from around the country go to get ready for the next Games. Next, train like a Team USA athlete at the Manitou Incline, a cable-car track that’s been converted into one of the most challenging hikes in the United States. When you're tired from your training, observe giraffes at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo or head up to Pikes Peak — which at 14,115 feet is one of Colorado's most renowned peaks — and treat yourself to some of the world famous doughnuts at the top. Don't worry, you won't have a problem finding a place to stay in the city; Colorado Springs offers diverse lodging options so you can make a weekend out of your adventure.
Photo Credit: Yushiro Okamoto, DS+R