NEW YORK - After 14 years of planning, fundraising, and delays, the brand-new Jackie Robinson Museum in Lower Manhattan is finally finished and ready to open. A ceremony featuring a ribbon cutting by Rachel Robinson, the 100-year-old widow of the pioneering ballplayer, was held on Tuesday.
The Jackie Robinson Museum contains personal artifacts from the Robinson family and historic memorabilia of the man who famously broke Major League Baseball's color line in 1947, becoming an icon of Americana and a legend of the nation's favorite pastime.
Rachel and Jackie Robinson's 72-year-old daughter Sharon and 70-year-old son David also attended.
"The issues in baseball, the issues that Jackie Robinson challenged in 1947, they're still with us," David Robinson told the crowd of attendees. "The signs of ‘white only’ have been taken down, but the complexity of equal opportunity still exists."
Oscar-winning filmmaker Spike Lee, wearing a Brooklyn Dodgers cap, told FOX 5 NY that the museum has more Jackie Robinson memorabilia "than Cooperstown," referring to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
"Without him, there would be no me, I wouldn't be standing here," retired pitcher CC Sabathia said. "I wouldn't have been able to live out my dream of playing Major League Baseball."
The tennis legend and pioneer Billie Jean King also attended the opening.
"That's what Jackie Robinson was trying to do—he tried to break down racism, segregation and also worry about inclusion," King said.
While the museum chronicles Robinson's Hall of Fame baseball career and his service to the country in the U.S. Army, it also chronicles his role in the civil rights movement and fight for better race relations.
The museum's administrators say one of its goals is to be a venue where the conversations can still take place today.
"We want to be the place—as young people now say, a safe space—where people will talk about race and not worry about the initial backlash that happens when you say something on social media," Jackie Robinson Foundation President and CEO Della Britton.
Rachel Robinson announced the museum back on April 15, 2008. It was supposed to cost $25 million and open in 2010, but the Great Recession knocked the project off track. The Jackie Robinson Foundation finally broke ground in 2017 and intended to open the museum in 2019. After missing that target, the project was delayed again during the pandemic.
The museum opens to the public on Sept. 5. Tickets will cost $18 for adults and $15 for students, seniors, and children.
Jackie Robinson Museum | One Hudson Square | 75 Varick St., New York, N.Y. 10013 | (212) 290-8600 | jackierobinson.org/museum
With The Associated Press.