Sunday, February 14, 1999

UK museum: Old-school and new-school


Rich in history with interactive technology

BY NEIL SCHMIDT
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEXINGTON, Ky. — Wally Clark was first in line. Of course.

        If you know Kentucky basketball fans, you know Clark, who annually camps out weeks in advance to be the first one in for Midnight Madness. So when the University of Kentucky Bas ketball Museum had its grand opening at 10 a.m. Saturday, Clark headed a group of 45 fans waiting at the door.

        The turnout Saturday built as the afternoon went on, and two hours before tipoff the line at the museum entrance snaked through the Civic Center.

        It took 21 years and $5.3 million to build the 10,000-square-foot museum, located next door to Rupp Arena in the Lexington Civic Center. It takes only a minute to realize UK now has one of the greatest recruiting tools in college basketball.

        Assembled by the design firm of Jack Rouse and Associates of Cincinnati, designers of the Cincinnati History Museum and the Kentucky Derby Museum, the museum mixes old-school reverence with interactive technology.

        UK's seven national championship trophies are on display, and life-size pictures of each of the program's 38 All-Americans flow down a hallway of history. A series of videos on overhead TVs allow UK greats to expound on the program's majesty.

        The biggest draw is a virtual reality game in which fans can go one-on-one against any of four UK greats: Kenny Walker, Richie Farmer, Ed Davender or Jeff Sheppard. (It costs $25,000 to digitally reproduce each player, so more will be added in coming years.)

        The real Kenny Walker tried the game a week ago and lost to the virtual Kenny Walker. When he wins, the virtual Walker says, “My game is like butter. I'm on a roll.” The soft-spoken Sheppard is more vanilla: “Good game” when he loses, “Better luck next time” when he wins.

        Another highlight: Terminals where fans can call up highlights of memorable UK games — men's and women's — including six men's NCAA title victories.

        Saturday, when fans watched tape of Christian Laettner beating UK in the 1992 East Region final, they cringed and turned away. The most requested footage wasn't a title game, but instead UK's victory over Duke in the 1998 South Region final.

        A broadcaster's booth lets you hear big games called by Cawood Ledford, Ralph Hacker and Claude Sullivan, then lets fans call the same game themselves and even record the effort for posterity. head IF YOU GO

        • Admission: Adults, $7.50; ages 13-17, $6.50; senior citizens and college students, $6; ages 7-12, $5; 6 and under, free.

        • Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday.

        • Museum info: (800) 269-1953.

       



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