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After Delay Due To COVID-19 Pandemic, New U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum In Olympic City USA Officially Opens To The Public

By Lisa Costantini | July 30, 2020, 12 p.m. (ET)

An inside look at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum on July 25, 2020 in Colorado Springs, Colo.


The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum (USOPM) in Colorado Springs, Colorado is a state-of-the-art marvel. But don’t take our word for it — just ask one of the dozens of athletes who make up the advisory board and athlete committee.

Four-time Olympic triathlete Hunter Kemper, who is one of three athletes on the USOPC athlete advisory board, calls the 60,000 square foot building, “the most accessible and interactive museum in the United Sates.”

In addition to Kemper, gold medal hurdler Benita Fitzgerald Mosley and three-time medalist and Olympic speedskater Joey Cheek who make up the advisory board, countless Olympic and Paralympic athletes have added their input — not only to the 12 interactive galleries, but also aiding with the accessibility of the building.

Paralympic pistol shooter Mike Tagliapietra — who was named to the committee in 2015, alongside blind goalball athlete, Matt Simpson — said both of them were “asked for our input as Matt has a very different perspective as a blind athlete, and me being a wheelchair athlete.” 

The two gave insight on what it would be like for an impaired person to go through the museum. 

“I remember the first thing I said to them was please don’t put carpet in the museum. It makes it difficult to push wheelchairs around on it,” said Tagliapietra.

And now, two months after the museum was due to open on Memorial Day — an unexpected delay due to the coronavirus — it officially opened to the public. 

Located on 1.7 acres of land in Olympic City USA, Chief Communications & Business Affairs Officer Peter Maiurro revealed that thanks to COVID-19, they are adjusting some aspects of the way the museum will operate. 

“We’ll have a certain number of visitors per hour that are allowed to enter the building,” he said as a way to keep social distancing, but that “all along we had planned on utilizing a timed ticketing. So that will help because it will allow us to control the flow of visitors and guests at a given time,” he said.

To purchase admission tickets in advance, guests can go to USOPM.org. 

“Our goal is that most of our guests schedule their visit in advance of showing up on site,” said Maiurro. “But we’ll have some flexibility to accommodate walk up traffic, too.”

After you purchase your ticket, Maiurro continued, “you’ll have the opportunity to answer several questions about your ability level — physical, cognitive and sensory — and your preferences. And that information will be transferred to an RFID (radio-frequency identification) chip in the credential you wear around your neck as you walk around the museum. The hardware in the respective galleries will read that and customize the content in the particular galleries for you,” he said, ensuring that no two guests will have the same experience. “So if you are hearing impaired or sight impaired, it will create a compelling experience for you based on your level of ability.”

Furthermore, he said, “If you have a strong preference for summer sports over winter sports or Paralympic over Olympic, it’s going to automatically populate content that it knows is going to resonate with you in particular.”

USOPM worked with lead strategic technology solutions partner to design a unique interactive and personalized experience. The art of storytelling through experiential exhibits was a critical component. 

“Panasonic has a longstanding history of creating interactive and immersive experiences, said Joe Conover, National Manager, Panasonic System Solutions Company of North America. “For more than 20 years, we have been a proud partner of Olympic museums around the world, supplying sustainable and immersive solutions for international museums from Switzerland to Tokyo. Collaborating with the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum, from initial consulting stages, to design, and ongoing engineering support, was truly an honor. We’re excited to bring to life one of the most immersive and accessible Olympic museum experiences in the world.” 

With the help of Panasonic’s professional displays, laser projectors and security solution technologies, visitors will be able to relive historical moments and experience life as an aspiring Olympian or Paralympian, whether you’re 6’0 tall, in a wheelchair, or visually or hearing impaired.

In addition to the truly extraordinary technology, the thing Maiurro admitted to being most proud of is having the opportunity to tell the incredibly inspiring stories of Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
Thanks to the inclusion of the word “Paralympic” in the museum’s name, Tagliapietra thinks that will help spread awareness about the movement. 

“People are going to say, ‘What’s Paralympic?’” he said. “It will have an impact, because a lot of people don’t know.”

The area is something else that will be impacted in a positive way by the museum, as the site is located in the city’s Southwest Downtown Urban Renewal District overlooking the America the Beautiful Park, Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak.  

“It is a catalyst for this renaissance of southwest downtown Colorado Springs,” Maiurro said. 

Colorado Springs is also home to the United States Olympic & Paralympic Training Center, where Tagliapietra lived as a resident athlete for many years. 

“I was at the museum for a walkthrough — along with Mosley, and some Olympic athletes from the ‘80s and ‘90s,” Tagliapietra said, “and it stirred a lot of emotions in us. I hope it’s going to do the same for everyone else that goes through it.”