Fourteen years of planning and development finally came to fruition this week as the doors opened on the Jackie Robinson Museum in Manhattan.
The baseball legend, groundbreaker, and fighter for just causes is being remembered with a two-story museum that holds more than 4,500 artifacts and pieces of baseball and societal history.
New York Mayor Eric Adams was among the speakers at the opening ceremony, and he paid tribute to the late Jackie Robinson and his wife, 100-year-old Rachel Robinson, who cut the ribbon. Adams spoke of their quest for the American dream.
“This man and wife took that dream and forced America and baseball to say you’re not going to be a dream on a piece of paper, you’re going to be a dream in life,” Adams said. “We are greater because of No. 42 and because he had an amazing wife that understood that dream and vision.”
The museum is offering free previews to individuals and small groups August 1–5 and August 14–September 4. Reservations can be made here. The museum opens to the paying public on September 5.
The idea for the museum began with Rachel Robinson in 2008. She had hoped for a 2010 opening with a $25 million price tag. But economic issues and later the pandemic kept delaying the project, which finally broke ground in 2017 and was completed at a cost of $38 million.
It was worth the wait, according to those who attended the opening and were the first to witness the displays. The list of attendees included former pitcher CC Sabathia, former tennis standout Billie Jean King, and film director Spike Lee.
Besides his Hall of Fame baseball career, the museum also focuses on his work away from the game.
“The museum seeks to bring people from all walks together to commune and appreciate each other’s humanity and diverse experiences,” officials say on the museum website. “It will serve as a forum for debate and discussion reflecting the ways in which we as a society can make progress by working together to solve difficult social issues and by appreciating how one life can make a difference.”
Located at One Hudson Square in the heart of Manhattan, admission is $18 for adults and $15 for students and seniors. While the first floor is filled with displays and memorabilia, the second floor includes an education center, a priority for Rachel Robinson.
“She wanted a fixed tribute to her husband, where people could come and learn about him, but also be inspired,” said Della Britton, who headed the project. “We want to be that place, as young people now say, a safe space, where people will talk about race and not worry about the initial backlash that happens when you say something on social media.”
Robinson’s family said remembering his message and efforts to make the world a better place are extremely important right now, given the nation’s current climate.
“The issues in baseball, the issues that Jackie Robinson challenged in 1947, they’re still with us,” said his son, David Robinson. “The signs of white only have been taken down, but the complexity of equal opportunity still exists.”