The Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame & Museum is a registered charitable organization, managed by a volunteer board of directors. Established on February 24, 1980 by the Manitoba Sports Federation (the predecessor to Sport Manitoba) as a means to preserve Manitoba's sports heritage, the organization operated without a permanent home until a lease for use of space in the historic Johnston Terminal building at The Forks was signed in January 1990.
The museum opened in the spring of 1993, occupying 2,855 square feet of exhibits, and honouring close to two hundred athletes, builders, and teams inducted into the Hall of Fame. The Museum also served as a home to the Manitoba Curling, Basketball, and Ten Pin Bowling Halls of Fame. Admission to the Museum was free, with approximately 50,000 visitors passing through the exhibit each year.
Following five moderately successful years at The Forks, The Hall of Fame & Museum found itself at a financial crossroads. There were a number of critical issues that needed to be examined and addressed if they were to continue to effectively meet their goals and mandate. In the fall of 1998, an important decision was made to relocate the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame & Museum to the 5th floor of The Bay’s downtown store location. This, and other changes in the organization, prompted the association to develop a strategic plan as a means to examine issues and develop realistic strategies necessary to ensure their long term future.
The Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame & Museum was established to preserve the rich history of sports in Manitoba, something that cannot be done with only our Honoured Members' portraits. The photographs and artifacts on display in the museum tell a historical story about sport in Manitoba. Our various exhibits touch on many different stories from many different sports. These archives and artifacts help to show how sport has changed in Manitoba over the decades.
As a result, the Board of Directors sought a new relationship with Sport Manitoba in 2008 which saw its staff become employees of the parent body as a program of Sport Manitoba. The Board of the Hall of Fame still looked after the selection, induction, revenue generation, and museum components of the organization. The Hall of Fame closed its doors to the museum at The Bay in December of 2009 and moved with Sport Manitoba and its partners to the new Sport for Life Centre at 145 Pacific Avenue, in the heart of the museum district in downtown Winnipeg. The main museum gallery has finally found a home on the main floor as the star attraction it deserves to be. It will occupy some 3,000 square feet with interchangeable decade galleries, interactive exhibits and computer kiosks, and something new to see for all ages. The history will spill out into the main lobby of the Canada Games Sport for Life Centre with plans to incorporate even more throughout the heritage building. In 2018, the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame was officially designated one of Manitoba's Star Attractions, recognizing it as a premier tourist destination.
Where do the artifacts & archives come from?
The Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and Museum relies on the people of the province to donate photographs, memorabilia, equipment, and clothing. While a museum preserves new things as well as old, there is more of a need for less-modern sporting items which are becoming increasingly harder to find. Once artifacts are donated to the museum, it is important to determine where they are from, what they were used for, who they belonged to, and when they were used. Then, they are properly stored until an exhibit is designed to help the archives and artefacts tell their story.