Friday, October 5, 2012

Just do what you do best. -- Red Auerbach

A wall of great quotations as you enter the VICTORY exhibit.
"Just do what you do best." Words of wisdom from the one and only Red Auerbach, the Celtics' legendary stogie smoking coach. My friends at The Sports Museum in Boston have done just that--what they do best--in their new exhibition at Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut.

Titled VICTORY, the exhibition showcases some of the greatest moments not only in Boston sports history, but American history. From Jim Craig's 1980 "Miracle on Ice" Olympic hockey jersey and goalie mask to the astonishing quantity of Johnny Kelly's loving cups, trophies, and commemorative medals, the spoils of VICTORY are beautifully displayed. It's hard not to be moved by the wall-sized graphic of father-son marathoning team Dick and Rick Hoyt as they cross the finish line of the 2006 Boston Marathon. Equally sobering is the small display honoring Tony Conigliaro (Tony C) and the horrific injury that cut short a promising career.

Galleries are devoted to all Boston's (and greater New England) beloved teams--the Boston Celtics, the Bruins, Red Sox, and New England Patriots. You can't help but feel like you're momentarily transported to an early autumn afternoon at Fenway Park or the old Boston Garden when you pass an old Red Sox bleacher seat or stand near the parquet floor that was the site of so many great Celtics victories. A theatre area with videos that recall our favorite sporting memories, aptly named for the early 2000s "Decade of Dominance," allows guests to re-live great victories from the various teams.

I was lucky enough to be able to spend a day helping out with the installation (read as: I put hook-and-loop on the backsides of several pieces of foamcore for mounting) and get some behind the scenes details. Sully, one of the superb team at Foxwoods, took me on a "lighting" tour of the various galleries.   If you do visit, pay attention to how beautifully lit the entire exhibit is. Sully and his team--more accustomed to lighting Craig Ferguson or a Celtic Woman performance--are true artists and went above and beyond in crafting the illumination and effects within the exhibit. There's the cute Blue Spruce trees behind a Celtics themed cow (yes, you read that right) and a fiery light that floods down on General Patton's bronze statue. (If you're wondering, "why Patton?" he was a very accomplished equestrian and competed in the 1912 Olympic Pentathlon for the USA.) Fireworks explode over the 2004 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox wall graphic and the 24 second clock lighting looks terribly official.

My stellar contribution...the hook-and-loop mountings for
the programs. Executed to perfection by Ethan from
Cambridge Seven Associates. 
Though I'm not an aficionado of The Sweet Science, Boston has a great boxing tradition and Rocky Marciano and many other boxing legends are well represented here. As are the Olympic Games. Though I prefer to claim the 1980 Olympic team as mostly Minnesotan (and lead by favorite Minnesota son, the late Herb Brooks) I will concede--for this exhibit only--their strong New England connection. I'd also wager most of you have never seen Ted Williams' Red Sox locker. It's on display, too.

And then there's the opportunity to see some great sculptures. If you've never stood up close and personal and studied the work of the incredible Armand La Montagne, do so. La Montagne's life-sized basswood sculptures of Ted Williams, Yaz, Larry Bird, Harry Agganis, Bobby Orr and General George S. Patton are all part of the installation. The detail--down to the ribbing in Bobby Orr's socks--is not to be believed. There are also several of the large painted studies that La Montagne does for each subject on display as well as a video about his process.

Armand La Montagne's life-sized sculpture of Bobby Orr. 
The Sports Museum plays a vital role in preserving and teaching the important lessons of sport. They are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and in addition to saving important artifacts of our sporting history, they promote and sponsor stay in school programs and anti-bullying campaigns in the Boston area. This exhibition is a chance to highlight some of their many treasures and to broaden their outreach across New England.

Re-live your most iconic sporting memories or introduce your children and grandchildren to the legends of New England sports--a trip to the VICTORY exhibit at Foxwoods Resort and Casino will do your heart good. And you're helping a great cause: passing on the value of sport to a new generation and assisting the preservation of irreplaceable sporting history that the Sports Museum is dedicated to. It's a winning proposition if there ever was one.

There are many more photos over on my flickr page at...

And here are the details for VICTORY --
Foxwoods Resort and Casino
Mashantucket, Connecticut
Great Cedar Exhibition Hall, Great Cedar Hotel Lobby
September 27, 2012 - January 27, 2013
Adults - 15$, Children 10$ and Seniors 12$
Sunday - Thursday: 11am - 8pm
Friday - Saturday: 11am - 10pm