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Volume 21 No. 42
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Museums see sports as good fit

It’s not just sports teams and venues putting a focus on history. Traditional museums often turn to sports exhibits to bring in crowds that might not otherwise visit.

“What we find when we do them is they definitely bring in the non-traditional visitors. We expose them to some of the other things we have,” said Anthony Greco, director of exhibits and interpretive planning at the Buffalo History Museum.

The museum debuted an exhibit on Buffalo’s history of sports late last year. To guide the project, the museum surveyed members and sports fans on the most iconic figures and moments — good and bad — in Buffalo sports history. That ranges from O.J. Simpson’s rushing record in 1973 to the Bills’ Super Bowl losses and “Music City Miracle” playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans in 2000.

“Scott Norwood’s helmet — we’ve got that. He actually signed it ‘wide right,’” said Greco, referring to the kicker’s last-second Super Bowl miss against the New York Giants in 1991. “We want to make people emotional one way or another.”

The exhibit is long term, running through spring of 2023. Greco said Pegula Sports and Entertainment — which owns the Bills and the NHL Sabres — has helped the museum with the exhibit and they are figuring out how to work with the teams on marketing and advertising.

Like his counterparts collecting and displaying sports memorabilia at stadiums and arenas, Greco said the museum came across its items from various sources. The biggest of which came from Greg Tranter, now the museum’s board president, who has donated more than 100,000 Bills and other sports items to the museum. Additional items have been loaned by other collectors and everyday fans.

“These people have been collecting these things for decades and in some cases they don’t want to keep them in the basement; they want to display them,” Greco said.