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Exploring the thousands of pieces of Olympic and Paralympic memorabilia archived at USOPC headquarters

Exploring the thousands of pieces of Olympic and Paralympic memorabilia archived at USOPC headquarters
Posted at 6:42 PM, Nov 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-10 07:57:20-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — The Winter Olympics and Paralympics will be here in a few months, and after the big games, some awards and memorabilia could end up in Colorado Springs at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum.

What you may not know is the process some of those items go through to get there.

The Crawford Family U.S. Olympic and Paralympic archives is located on the second floor inside the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee headquarters in downtown Colorado Springs. It's closed to the public, but News5 was able to get a tour.

The preserved items are in a 3,200 sq. foot room filled with thousands of Olympic and Paralympic movement history. The archives were established in 2012.

"At that time there was really no forward facing place for us to display any of the items that we had in our collection, so we just continued building and preserving and storing all of these items," said Amanda McGrory, an archivist and collections curator. "So it was really exciting when the museum was introduced as an idea. A lot of the items that we have in our collection now, especially some of those really popular items from well-known athletes, a lot of the medals, a lot of the torches are actually on display at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum."

What's in the museum, is just a small part of the archives collection though.

"We have over 100,000 photos in our collection stored in our photo room, we also have more than 10,000 physical artifacts, so uniforms, equipment, torches, medals, and hundreds of Olympic and Paralympic posters," said McGrory.

Other items include opening ceremony outfits, mascots, luggage for teams, and old tickets to previous games. They are all kept in climate-controlled rooms. For example, the photo room has a dry fire suppression system which will not damage the artifacts if a fire begins.

McGrory also said there are hundreds of thousands of manuscripts and documents dating back to the first Olympic games. Everything in the collection is processed by a member of the three-person team. The processing takes up to two hours for each item before getting stored properly.

"We take photographs, measure the items, document their condition, research the history of the item and the athlete who owned them. We'll then share that collection and list with the museum, and they'll be able to look at it and see what types of things fit the exhibits that they're planning," said McGrory.

McGrory is also a four-time Paralympian who competed in Track & Field. She mentioned, collecting more memorabilia for the Paralympic movement is important to her.

"I recently competed at the Tokyo games and that is going to be my last Paralympic games. As I transition out of my athletic career and into my professional career, this job, it's the best. There's nothing I'd rather be doing and no place I'd rather be than sharing this history with everyone," said McGrory.

For McGrory, her favorite part about the job, is that her office is full of surprises.

"I opened a box and pulled out a signed tennis shoe from Serena Williams. I had no idea it was in there, and that's when it hit me that this was so cool," said McGrory.

The archives department receives donations from current and retired athletes as well as family members and fans of the Olympic and Paralympic movements.

The archives department works closely with the USOPM to rotate items in and out of the museum. The archives are not open to the public, but the team has been busy fulfilling digital requests.