ORDA plans $1.4 million-plus Olympic Museum overhaul

The link building, which connects the 1932 and 1980 rinks at the Olympic Center, will be home to the new Lake Placid Olympic Museum. (Provided photo —ORDA)

LAKE PLACID — The state Olympic Regional Development Authority wants to completely modernize Lake Placid’s Olympic Museum in hopes of enticing more people to visit and engage with this village’s sports history.

On Friday, ORDA’s Board of Directors voted to authorize CEO Michael Pratt to sign a more than $1.4 million contract with a Buffalo-based company, Hadley Exhibits, to redesign the museum and develop, design and install its exhibits.

Pratt presented the board with a vision for the future of the museum: interactive, digital and three-dimensional exhibits that would change every so often to entice people to return, artistic displays for artifacts, and a more modern facility, in general, to host the museum’s existing programs for school children. He pointed to exhibits on display at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum in Colorado Springs — a 60,000 square-foot museum that opened last year and cost approximately $90 million to build, according to the Associated Press. Pratt noted that ORDA wasn’t planning on building exhibits exactly like those at that museum.

“The average visitation in Lake Placid is around 2.5 million visitors a year,” Pratt said. “We’re seeing 41,000 of those (people) come through the museum, it’s less than 2%. Return business is not really there. It’s not very strong because even though the artifacts are powerful, the collection is powerful, our ability to tell the story is somewhat hampered by the space and the agent. When you just build a nice stand for something, it’s not as powerful as what we need to do.”

Pratt said ORDA has considered the possibility of applying for grants or sponsorships to boost funding for the museum.

Pratt also hinted at the possibility of a ticket price increase, given that the museum will be modernized. Before the museum was moved, tickets were less than $10 for every age group.

Right now, the museum is being housed inside the Conference Center on Main Street while the link building — the section of the Olympic Center that connects the 1932 and 1980 Olympic rinks — is under construction.

The ORDA Board previously approved a more than $32.9 million renovation of the link building, $22.8 million for renovations to the 1932 and 1980 rinks and $11.7 million for the replacement of the refrigeration system at the Olympic Center.

Before construction started on the Olympic Center, the second floor of the link building housed the ORDA administrative offices, plus a cafe with views of the Oval, High Peaks, ski jumps and bobsled track. The first floor housed the museum. With the authority building a new office building on a former hospital site on Church Street, the offices in the link building will be converted. There will be an outdoor deck on the second floor that’s accessible to the public, expanded dining space, interpretive displays and space for the museum.

When the link building renovation is complete, ORDA plans to move the museum back to its original spot on the first floor of the link building, but give the museum an extra 1,500 square feet of space, for a total of about 5,151 square feet.

All of the work on the link building is expected to be complete by November 2022, ahead of the 2023 Winter World University Games.


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