August 23, 2009
Building a Pro Wrestling Museum: Where would you put it?
Roughly a week ago I wrote a column discussing the need for an all-encompassing pro wrestling museum.
The term all-encompassing is important here. I realize there are two existing museums but, currently, there is not one single location that celebrates the entirety of the pro wrestling industry - from the early days of the territories to today.
The feedback to last week's column was overwhelming. I received dozens of e-mails from fans around the world, not only supporting the cause but also pledging their own time, money, and collections to make it happen.
Now that's passion.
(If you wrote me and I haven't responded yet, I will. It's been a busy week.)
I was inspired beforehand. Knowing there's a fanbase that would regularly travel from around the world to see this thing, I'm convinced not only that it could happen but it should happen.
For those that missed the piece that kicked all this off, my vision is to have a "professional" pro wrestling museum: spacious rooms devoted to wrestling memorabilia from around the world, all encased in glass; hallways lined with event posters, from the heyday of the territories to the rise of the pay-per-view; action figures, t-shirts, magazines, 8x10s, as well as ring worn items from legendary figures in the business.
What I wanted to do this week is share just some of the feedback I received and again solicit more. Shoot me your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org. Whether it be positive, negative, or indifferent, I'd like to hear what you have to say.
Where would you put it? What would you put in it? Can you help with the process of creating it? After all, if the demand to see this isn't there - it's not worth having.
To read the initial column in its entirety, click here.
I love the idea and your overwhelming enthusiasm for it! Personally, I would make it a priority to visit such a place if it existed, no matter where it is located. As far as it's location and creating excitement, I would suggest looking at Geppi's example. Find a location where you can piggyback off of the interest generated by it's surroundings. Cities like Orlando or Memphis would be great for this due to the high amount of tourism those cities experience. The likelihood that a casual fan would go out of their way to visit the museum is not very likely, but if they are already in the area due to other tourist destinations, it will greatly increase foot traffic. I think it is very important what you are doing, and I would appreciate if you kept me in the loop on any plans that arise. I would be more than willing to support the idea with donations, be they monetary, exhibits, or through action. Thank you for reading and keep the dream alive!
-Matthew Aaron Collis
Frederick County, Maryland
This is a very interesting idea. I've been collecting wrestling figures, magazines, books and autographs for 12 years. As long as the museum was on the West Coast (Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho or Nevada) I am certain I would make at least an annual visit. Any further than this and I am not so confident that I would go that regularly. If a trend was established over a year, where items donated to the facility were not being stolen or damaged, I would certainly provide my collection.
One billion AMENS on the article on the Observer site. I'm usually not much of a "Vince needs to do..." type of guy (because I'm so cynical on the WWE sense of history) but a museum combined with an actual PHYSICAL WWE hall of fame would be something that could be put anywhere on this earth and I'd gladly go. I've heard the argument about the need for the museum to be self-sustaining and turn a profit and agree that over time it almost certainly would. It won't happen in a year, probably not five and maybe not ten; but, so long as there wasn't a HUGE overhaul done at some point, I can't see how it wouldn't turn a profit. And even if it didn't, if on the off-chance that Vince was behind it, it really wouldn't matter. He could easily just eat the loss and give something that will stand long after he's gone. But yes, thank you for giving attention idea that I, and pretty much everyone I know who has watched for 15-20+ years, have long batted around.
I agree. I think a wrestling museum would be a cool idea. There's obviously a lot of history to cover, but that's what would make the museum work. As far as the best place to put it, the idea gives of a New York City vibe. If it's put there, I think would do well. Very cool idea.
Hey Graham- Interesting topic. I think the thesz/tragos hall of fame should include recent era pro wrestling as well(I realize they recently had some flooding problems but this is just hypothetical). They represent amatuer wrestling and pioneer era wrestling very well. If they where "smartened up" to including all of your ideas as well as what they already have, they would be great. They need a guy who grew up in the 80's to shape it into a place like you described. Also, I would donate. Take it easy - Bill
While I unfortunately can't contribute in any fashion but giving my best wishes, I think it's a good idea. It's definitely not profitable, but it's very important to preserve the history of professional wrestling, and someone's gotta do that job, else, as you said, there is a risk that eventually, huge fragments of wrestling history can be lost forever just because no one went through the trouble of keeping records. I apologize for the markness in advance, but in my opinion, a museum for professional wrestling and an effort to preserve its history would do very well for wrestling's standing on society. As much as one of the best parts of wrestling is that it's an art for the masses, it still can't be treated as if it's just a dumb soap opera that can just end with the season and be sealed in a TV company's vault forever. A museum would hopefully help to give the proper respect for the sport and the workers that helped and help to keep the show going. I'm sorry for being unable to help, both in items and money and probably in doing the work, since I don't live in the US, but these are my thoughts and I'd love if you decide to work on that goal later on. It's a very noble task and I would just love to be able to visit and help in the future.
Love the website, love the podcast. Keep it up.
I have been giving a lot of thought to your museum idea today. Being something of a pessimist, for which I make no apology, my first thoughts are about how difficult an undertaking this would be. So forgive me if I go there first, but all i can think about is how expensive an undertaking this would be and how hard it would be to get any cooperation from anyone in the business.
But then my pessimism clears and all I can think is, "DAMN. That's a good idea."
SO, I move to question number one: where? Where do you put something like this? I think it has to be somewhere that is already a destination, LIKE...
My first thought is Manhattan. (I live in New York, so I'm biased.) It might be the US Capital of tourism and there are already museums dedicated to everything under the sun. They seem to make enough money to stay open. Think about it: The Times Square Museum of Wrestling. There are other possibilities, like Vegas, Chicago, LA. But I think New York is best. (Again, biased.)
Would there be permanent exhibits? Rotating exhibits? A little bit of both? I'm not a regular museum-goer, so I don't really know the answer. I guess it has to do with the amount of space you have and also the number of exhibits.
You could do the whole thing timeline style; begin with the late 19th Century and, as the patrions walk along have the history of the business unfold in front of them. Or you could have dedicated sections for the major promotions. Or you could do it by country: US, Canada, Mexico, Japan, etc. If the museum is going to be in the US you should probably focus on domestic and have special, smaller exhibits for the other countries.
I'm suprised to find myself typing this, but I don't agree with Cornette. (I think that's a first.) If you build it, they will come. Particularly if you build it in an area that already has a lot of tourism. Like New York. Or Vegas.
Hell, why just have one? (We're dreaming here, anyway.) Open your main branch in New York and have a second branch in Vegas.
I'm just brainstorming. It's a great idea, though.
I'll close now by telling you how jealous I am of the fact that you got to hang out with Jim Cornette. You are one lucky mofo. If I hadn't been at a friend's wedding, I would sure as hell have been in Charlotte. It's already on my calendar for next year.