On April 15 2007, the nation paused and collectively reflected as it commemorated the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball. Jackie's ardent crusade for opportunity forever altered the social and economic landscape of the country.
To those who bore witness to his electrifying play or shared his journey through the civil rights movement, Jackie's memory remains alive. Unfortunately, many among today's generation have not been exposed to his humanitarian legacy.
The Jackie Robinson Foundation is poised to establish the Jackie Robinson Museum in lower Manhattan. More than a permanent tribute to Jackie Robinson's pioneering legacy and role as a catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement, the museum will serve as a venue for vibrant dialogue on critical social issues and as a destination for innovative educational programming.
The Jackie Robinson Museum will commemorate the life and legacy of a true American hero through an exploration of his commitment to service and to the achievement of "first class citizenship" for all Americans. It will be a prominent stop on existing cultural routes in New York City and environs, and as a venue for lectures, concerts and receptions. It will serve as a forum for debate and discussion reflecting the ways in which we as a society also can progress through an understanding that one life can make a difference.
The mission of the Jackie Robinson Museum is reflected in three key words: educate, challenge, and inspire. The Museum will educate visitors about Jackie Robinson the athlete, the scholar, the advocate for equal rights and the family man. It will inspire interest in social history and cultural change and will challenge young people to pursue a life of achievement and purpose.
The Jackie Robinson Museum will be located on the ground floor of One Hudson Square, 75 Varick Street at the intersection of Canal Street in New York City's evolving SoHo neighborhood. This space is ideal because of its size, accessibility by mass transit and to New York City's West Side Highway and the Holland Tunnel. In addition, SoHo has become a thriving commercial and residential area. Tourists anxious to get away from the hustle and bustle and soaring towers of midtown migrate downtown to enjoy shopping, fine restaurants, and more than thirty galleries and museums in the relaxed atmosphere of SoHo.
Conceived of as an iconic museum experience, the Jackie Robinson Museum's permanent exhibition space, the Pantheon, places visitors at the heart of American and civil rights history. The 11,000 square foot exhibition space will be filled with multilayered exhibits, rich with artifacts, cultural history, historical footage and personal anecdotes.
When the exhibits are retracted, the Museum will become an ideal place to host concerts, lectures and receptions honoring innovative leaders. To accommodate these large events, the Decade Panels creating the walls of the Arena will be fully retractable, allowing each Panel and overhead scrim to slide out of sight. Temporary seating and a stage can be installed.
In an intimate setting reminiscent of an old-time ball park, a new film, brimming with interviews, historic footage and home movies will introduce Jackie Robinson's life and illuminate the years 1919 to 1972, in the context of sport, politics, family and the struggle for civil rights and racial equality.
Visitors will next travel into the 600-square foot flexible gallery, through which travelling exhibitions as well as special archival and curatorial presentations will rotate, providing returning visitors with a fresh experience and new perspectives each time. Fully retractable fixtures will permit use of the space as a gathering location as well, where school groups can meet to discuss their experience in the Jackie Robinson Museum, and where public forums and academic symposia can be staged.
Overlooking the Pantheon, an 800&nash;square&nash;foot mezzanine, will bridge the Museum exhibit space on the ground floor with the Foundation's Leadership Center and Headquarters on the second floor of the building. The Mezzanine's unique vantage point provides an extraordinary place for special visitors to relax and view the activities taking place on the Museum floor. Bookshelves, chairs and tables create a comfortable space to meet or peruse material from the Foundation's extensive Resource Library or to view special collections.
The Pantheon is defined by nine large&nash;scale graphic panels, hanging scrims and media projections. Arranged chronologically, the panels will encircle visitors with Jackie Robinson's achievements juxtaposed against the backdrop of United States history from 1919 to the present.
Each Pantheon panel will explore content in multiple layers using image, quotes, graphics and text. A frieze of African American pioneers will run above a chronological presentation of Jackie Robinson's achievements presented in historical context. Below these, a children's activity layer will pull the youngest visitors through the exhibits.
Surrounding the exterior of the Pantheon, five distinct alcoves explore Jackie Robinson's journey from his birthplace in Cairo, Georgia, through the baseball years in Los Angeles, Montreal and Brooklyn and finally to his family home in Connecticut. Intimate portraits, personal artifacts and social commentary will give context to each stage of his remarkable life.