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Rolling Artifacts

March 2024
1min read


We are, among other things, a nation of museums, museums enough, it seems, to satisfy just about any whim or interest, no matter how arcane. Just riffling through the fifty-four hundred entries in a recent edition of The Official Museum Directory , we came across the following: the Tumbling Waters Museum of Flags (Alabama), the Musical Instrument Museum (Minnesota), the Museum of Systematic Biology (California), the Museum of Dentistry (California), the Raggedy Ann Antique Doll and Toy Museum (New Jersey), and even something called the World’s Smallest Museum (in Texas, oddly enough).

And it will soon be necessary to add to this list one more item: the National Museum of Roller Skating. As we noted in “Roll Around,” an article that appeared in our June/July 1980 issue, roller skating as a popular sport began in the 1860’s when James Plimpton invented the four-wheeled “rocking skates” which enabled the wearer to control his movements (with practice). After that, roller rinks abounded, and recreational roller skating became a pastime for millions of Americans—and today includes such permutations as roller discos and the Roller Derby.

That is a respectable spread of history, and to commemorate it the Roller Skating Rink Operators Association and the United States Amateur Confederation of Roller Skating, both headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1980 came up with the notion of creating a museum. It will open formally in Lincoln on April 14 (James Plimpton’s birthday), 1982, and will include, according to Roller Skating Business magazine, “skates, boots, plates, wheels, toe stops, accessories, costumes, uniforms, periodicals, books, films, music, photographs of industry leaders and competitive personalities, patches, decals, posters, post cards, rink and competitive memorabilia—all the elements of our history that should be protected for future generations.”

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