A new museum celebrating Jackie Robinson opened in Manhattan on Tuesday, paying tribute to the barrier-breaking baseball legend’s life and career.
“The idea was that the museum would bring people together, forge bonds, and continue the work of changing the social landscape of our country,” said Della Britton, the CEO of the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
Located at One Hudson Square in the SoHo section of Manhattan, the museum features artifacts from the ball players life, including artifacts from the former Brooklyn Dodger’s life, as he was the first major league baseball player to break the color barrier, and join the MLB.
Rachel Robinson, the 100-year-old widow of the baseball legend, attended the ceremonial opening of the museum.
Robinson became a symbol of the Civil Rights movement, and was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. After breaking the color barrier in 1947, Robinson advocated for equality and justice for Black Americans, and became a leading advocate in the struggle for Civil Rights.
The museum, which features 19,380 square feet of space, will open for visitors on Labor Day, which falls on Sept. 5. It will also feature over 450 hours of video footage and over 40,000 photos of Robinson, on and off the field, that visitors can see.
Robinson played in the MLB for the Brooklyn Dodgers, who played their home games at Ebbets Field Crown Heights, Brooklyn, before leaving for Los Angeles in 1957.
They had been petitioning the city to build a new stadium on the site of what is now Barclays Center (the home of the Brooklyn Nets), but were rejected — prompting their move.
P.S. 375 Jackie Robinson School now educates elementary school children across the street from where Robinson played professionally.
Originally slated for a 201 opening, the museum hit several snags, and was forced to halt their plans due to financial constraints. The minds behind the project ultimately secured the funds to open the museum, and they managed to get construction started in 2017.
The institution was later planned to open in 2019, after the treasures raised several million dollars, but they experienced significant delays — particularly when the COVID-19 pandemic hit New York City and halted construction.
Much of the museum centers around Robinson’s legacy off the field, and serves as a space to bring visitors into the conversation about race relations in America, said Robinson’s 70-year-old son, David.
“The issues in baseball, the issues that Jackie Robinson challenged in 1947, they’re still with us,” said the younger Robinson. “The signs of white only have been taken down, but the complexity of equal opportunity still exists.”
“We are greater because of number 42,” said Mayor Eric Adams, who attended the opening ceremony on Tuesday, referencing the number that Robinson wore during his major league career.
“There’s nowhere on the globe where dream is attached to our name — or our country’s name,” Adams added. “There’s not a German dream. There’s not a French dream. There’s not a Polish dream. Darn it, there’s an American dream. And this man and wife took that dream and forced America and baseball to say ‘you’re not going to be a dream on a piece of paper, you’re going to be a dream in life.’”
The MLB later retired the number 42 for all major league players in 1997.
The Jackie Robinson Museum will open at One Hudson Square, at a cost oft $18 for adults, and $15 for students, seniors and children.
This article has been updated to reflect the proper date of Labor Day, which is Sept. 5.
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.