Tacoma becomes ‘Super Bowl City’ with Gridiron Glory at Washington State History Museum

1906 football helmet, image courtesy  Pro Football  Hall of Fame

1906 football helmet, image courtesy
Pro Football
Hall of Fame

From all-time greats to contemporary stars, football fans will score big when Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame kicks off at the Washington State History Museum (WSHM) in Tacoma. Gridiron Glory is the largest, most comprehensive traveling exhibition ever created about America’s favorite sport. The 6,000 square foot multimedia experience opens Saturday, May 27 (Memorial Day weekend) and will be on view through Sunday, September 10, 2017.

“For 15 weeks, Tacoma will be a ‘Super Bowl City’. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many people in our region to experience the incredible collections from the Pro Football Hall of Fame,’” said Jennifer Kilmer, Director of the Washington State Historical Society. The traveling exhibit has been featured in every Super Bowl host city since its 2012 debut, and WSHM will be the only place in the Pacific Northwest to see it.

“Many of us have vivid memories of watching high school or college games in the crisp fall weather with friends and family, and lively gatherings in our homes to watch pro games on TV. Some of us have experienced the thrill of seeing pro games in person. Football is part of our culture,” Kilmer added. She also announced a special feature: “A section of the exhibit is dedicated to our Seattle Seahawks’ role in football history. We’ve just learned that we’ll be able to bring in the Lombardi Trophy from Super Bowl XLVIII when the Seahawks defeated the Denver Broncos 43 to 8. It will be on view until early July when they need it back, and at that point Hall of Fame will supply another Super Bowl trophy.”

A close-up view of the Super Bowl XLVIII trophy will be one of many memorable moments for visitors who will be surrounded by hundreds of the most iconic pro football artifacts of all time. Gridiron Glory tells the story of 125 years of professional football history, from the 1892 accounting ledger noting football’s first paid player (regarded as pro football’s “birth certificate”) to a locker vignette with gear from Seahawks players.

“We are excited to help bring this unique exhibit to the area for 12s from all over the region,” said Mike Flood, Seattle Seahawks Vice President of Community Outreach. “It is a great opportunity for fans to visualize how the Seahawks fit into the historical context of the NFL, including honoring our own Hall of Fame members.”

Inspirational stories of the game’s pioneers, great players, coaches and circumstances will unfold through playbooks, videos, spectacular NFL footage in the Champion’s Theater, and more. The storylines tackle everything from football’s cultural impacts to the science behind the game. Visitors will re-live the great moments, honor the great players, be awed by the dynasties, explore the road to equality, examine record-breakers, and bask in the glory of the game.

The exhibit gets physical, too. “How would you like the chance to be the referee and make a tough call? You get to try that in an authentic Instant Replay Booth. Dynamic components help guests learn and have fun. It is definitely hands-on!” said Molly Wilmoth, the museum’s program manager. Visitors will be able to slip on a helmet rigged up with coach-to-player communication; measure up to a pro by lining up their body size to that of an NFL player; and try on reproduction vintage uniforms and compare it to today’s lightweight yet rugged equipment.

Wilmoth added, “We have our own winning playbook of special events coming up throughout the summer, including Friday Football Flick nights, a youth Gridiron Gauntlet day, and a 21-and-over tailgate-inspired night called Two Pint Conversion. We’re also talking about sports and safety at our To The Limit panel discussion.”

Washington State History Museum will post ongoing updates, special appearances, and events at www.WashingtonHistory.org. Some events are ticketed with limited capacity and expected to sell out. Tickets are currently available for Kickoff to Glory, the VIP preview gala on Thursday evening, May 25. WSHM is partnering with the Tacoma Athletic Commission for the VIP event, honoring TAC’s 75th anniversary and celebrating the civic organization’s dedication to youth and sports. During its history, TAC has raised over six million dollars to support youth athletics and the athletic achievements of Pierce County citizens. Proceeds from Kickoff to Glory will benefit TAC scholarships and the nonprofit WSHS.

The museum’s neighbors are also excited about the exhibition have partnered with WSHS for a Gridiron Glorious Weekend in Tacoma package, offering an itinerary of local favorites for the May 27-29 exhibition opening  weekend. Buy two or more WSHM tickets in advance and receive weekend discounts including 15% off your room rate at beautiful Hotel Murano; two-for-one entrées at The Harmon Restaurant and brewery (Sunday/Monday); half-off a kayak or motor boat rental at Point Defiance Marina; and $2.50 off admission plus free popcorn at the historic Grand Cinema. Check WSHM’s website for a special Gridiron Father’s Day Membership package too.

- Washington State Historical Society