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The United by Hockey Mobile Museum, an experience that “celebrates hockey’s trailblazers, changemakers, business leaders, and collectors,” debuted at the 2023 NHL all-star weekend in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The museum is described as a unique experience showcasing history, artifacts, and profiles of members of the hockey community from underrepresented demographics. Rodney Reynolds, founding partner of ALXMOBILE, who is powering the mobile museums alongside the Hockey Hall of Fame, wants fans to walk away from the experience armed with new knowledge: “Education is the ultimate goal.”
PK Subban, longtime NHL defenseman, current ESPN panelist, and one of the many impactful players featured throughout the museum, agreed. "Well, history is knowledge, right?" Subban said. "So just the more you know about the game... I just think it also shows you how far the game has come, too." The one-of-a-kind mobile museum will travel to all 32 NHL markets in 2023, bringing its unique storytelling to NHL fans across the United States and Canada. Designer Natalie Zanechhia shared her vision for the experience with NHL.com, saying “[t]he objective is that everyone will leave this experience with more awareness on the diversity of the sport and more recognition of the names of the individuals highlighted, and that they will feel inspired to continue sharing these stories.”
Upon entering the trailer, fans are met with dramatic lighting, mirrored ceilings, and the orderly, colorful chaos of photos, items, and blurbs featuring all-time hockey greats. While the overload of information could be overwhelming in such a small space, instead, the trailer is filled with smiling faces, excited utterances at newly discovered information, and fans trying to capture the museum via glare-filled phone pictures. Turn one way and there’s Willie O’Ree’s game-worn pads; ound the corner to view a monument to Kevin Weekes, honoring both his playing days and current broadcasting career; head to the final stretch to see a full-sized photo of Auston Matthews and his twin hoop earrings.
The museum gives equal space to players, broadcasters, managers, coaches, and other hockey personalities, enforcing the notion that the hockey community is diverse and made up of a range of different roles; no one person is more important than others, a common refrain in the team-based sport. People of all genders are featured in both large and small formats, with a sizeable installment featuring Hockey Hall of Famer Angela James, including one of her gold medals for Team Canada. The display is rivaled by Larry Kwong’s. Kwong was the first player of Asian descent to play in the NHL.
Museums often get a bad reputation for being dull and inaccessible. It’s difficult to create an immersive experience that both educates and entertains, that leaves the museum-goer feeling enriched and empowered with new knowledge. The United by Hockey Mobile Museum is truly a one-of-a-kind experience that not only leaves fans with a wealth of knowledge regarding some of hockey’s most important players, changemakers, and personalities, but leaves fans inspired to stand on the shoulders of these hockey greats and continue to make sure that hockey truly is for everyone. Even the players who are featured in the museum are awed by the experience: "It's something I take pride in and to be on the wall with the likes of these players," Avalanche forward Matt Nieto said. "It's pretty awesome."