Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Springfield, Mass. Visited: March 28, 2004 NPS Site Visited: Not an NPS Site Local Website
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WHAT IS IT? Enshrinement hall for basketball’s greatest players as well as a museum dedicated to the history of the game.
BEAUTY (7/10) No doubt about it, this bright open building is a triumph in museum design and this design contributed greatly to our experience. The shape and layout encouraged you to run, jump, play – everything you’re not supposed to do in a museum.
Besides, it looks cool. The museum is a basketball!
HISTORIC SIGNIFICANCE (8/10) Basketball started in a YMCA here in Springfield, Massachusetts.
CROWDS (9/10) Crowded, but fun. The background noise of bouncing basketballs and squeaking sneakers is perfect. There are so many exhibits that waiting is never a problem. The exuberance of the crowd is contagious and creates a friendly atmosphere. Michael lamented the Knicks drafting of Fredric Weis (over Ron Artest) with a stranger and was needled by a lady for slouching a bit when his height was being measured pre-vertical jump. Yes, Michael was cheating.
EASE OF USE/ACCESS (5/5) Easy to get to. The way to the Hall of Fame is clearly marked and only a short distance from the Interstate 91. Big parking lot. The museum is completely accessible.
CONCESSIONS/BOOKSTORE (2/5) A number of restaurants on site, including McDonalds. Points off for the Golden Arches. The bookstore is expensive. There is a lot of stuff in the store but nothing that we wanted. Very few books. Why not Terry Pluto’s oral history of the American Basketball Association, Loose Balls or Bill Bradley’s autobiography? Why no basketball jerseys? Especially the Mitchell and Ness throwbacks that sell like hot cakes. Mitchell and Ness reproduced a few jerseys on display. Why none for sale?
COSTS (1/5) The Site’s biggest negative at $16 per adult
RANGER/GUIDE TO TOURIST RATIO (1/5) No guides. Not sure anyone working at the Hall of Fame is over 21. Has anyone here ever seen Dr. J play live or on TV?
TOURS/CLASSES (8/10) Again, no guides but the interactive displays, panels and videos more than make up for this shortcoming.
FUN (10/10) We had a great time. Every kid and every adult at the Hall had a great time. We were basketball. We participated and learned. In the course of five hours we were shooters, dribblers, jumpers, rebounders, and ball stealers. We broadcasted game highlights, we learned about the game, we learned coaching strategy, we posed for basketball trading cards, we were (mythically) inducted into the Hall of Fame, and we were audience members.
WOULD WE RECOMMEND? (8/10) The HOF is a triumph in museum design, interactivity and inclusiveness. The site is a celebration of the basketball. It is a loving tribute, it is a living tribute. We had a great time. If you have any interest in basketball we recommend it wholeheartedly. The only shortcoming is its high cost.
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