Farmington Museum welcomes 'Gridiron Glory,' 'Inside Out' exhibitions

Shows focus on pro football, women's underwear

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
  • "Gridiron Glory" runs March 7- Aug. 30 at the museum.
  • "Inside Out" runs March 7-July 12 at the museum.
  • There is an admission charge for "Gridiron Glory," but admission to "Inside Out" is free.

FARMINGTON — Thematically speaking, the two traveling exhibitions opening this weekend at the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park probably couldn't have less to do with each other.

But, when considered from another angle, they cover two significant slices of American culture from the 20th century, offering a profound look at what society deems important.

The museum, located at 3041 E. Main St., is opening both shows on March 7.

"Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame" presents hundreds of jerseys, helmets, footballs, photos and interactive displays from National Football League history.

"Inside Out: An Exploration of Women's Status and Roles in American Society as Reflected in Fashion from Foundation to Silhouette" chronicles how women's underwear affected their shapes during several different eras in American history.

"With the blending of these perspectives, from history to pop culture, I think we've got two (exhibitions) that really knock it out of the park," Farmington Museum director Bart Wilsey said.

The "Gridiron Glory" exhibition at the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park dives deep into the sports roots with displays of early equipment.

Both shows contain hundreds of items, filling the museum's exhibition space to the brim, and rank among some of the more entertaining fare the institution has offered in recent years. Wilsey said the museum is presenting the exhibitions side by side strictly as a matter of the timing of their availability, not intentionally, although he believes they complement each other.

"It just kind of worked out," he said. "You have to take opportunities when they come."

"Gridiron Glory" is expected to be enormously popular, as it features memorabilia from some of the biggest names in America's favorite sport. The exhibition features game-worn jerseys, cleats, helmets and gloves from the likes of Tom Brady, John Elway, Barry Sanders, Jim Brown, Rob Gronkowski, Bo Jackson, Jack Lambert, Emmitt Smith, Jerry Rice, Steve Young, Tony Dorsett, Mean Joe Greene and others.

This leather "intimidator" helmet is part of the "Gridiron Glory" exhibition opening this weekend at the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park.

It also includes a Vince Lombardi Trophy, presented annually to the winner of the Super Bowl, as well as a Champions Theater that focuses almost exclusively on Super Bowl winners, several interactive video screens that educate visitors about the history of the game and its influence on popular culture, larger-than-life-size photos, and hands-on activities that allow visitors to test their passing or kicking accuracy, or compare their arm and leg sizes to those of contemporary NFL players.

Other displays focus on the roots of the game, the history of African-American players in the NFL, the birth of "Monday Night Football" and portrayals of the NFL in Hollywood.

Wilsey said it took six semi-trailer trucks to bring the show here, and a staff of three workers worked two weeks to assemble the exhibition.

"It's one of the largest artifacts shows we've ever done," he said, noting the show's Lombardi Trophy had just arrived in Farmington after being polished at Tiffany & Co. in New York.

The exhibition was featured at the Super Bowl in Miami in February, where Kansas City defeated San Francisco 31-20. It will head to Las Vegas, Nevada, next.

A Jack Lambert jersey and a Mean Joe Green helmet are included in a Pittsburgh Steelers display in the "Gridiron Glory" exhibition at the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park.

Wilsey said the exhibition was put together by the same company that organized the "Shipwreck! Pirates & Treasure" show that opened at the museum in the fall of 2017, and the museum's relationship with the company helped ease the way for bringing the "Gridiron Glory" exhibition here.

"It's a sampling of everything you would see if you went to the (Pro Football) Hall of Fame (in Canton, Ohio)," Wilsey said.

It's difficult to zero in on some of the more notable artifacts from the collection, he said, but Wilsey noted a handful of unusual items, including a 1906 "intimidator" leather helmet with a nose guard and eye holes that looks like it would be right at home on a medieval battlefield.

In a Pittsburgh Steelers display, there is a silver metal elevator control panel from Three Rivers Stadium that was used by team owner Art Rooney. With his team on the brink of defeat, a disheartened Rooney reportedly was riding the elevator down from the press box late in a 1972 playoff game against the Oakland Raiders when Steelers running back Franco Harris made the famed "Immaculate Reception" that led to a stunning 13-7 Pittsburgh victory.

A modified shoe worn by New Orleans Saints kicker Tom Dempsey when he booted a record-setting 63-yard field goal in 1970 is part of the "Gridiron Glory" exhibition.

But Wilsey's favorite item is the modified shoe worn by New Orleans Saints kicker Tom Dempsey when he booted a then-NFL record 63-yard field goal against the Detroit Lions in 1970. Dempsey was born without toes on his kicking foot, and the shoe has an elongated and flat surface that Dempsey used to strike the ball.

Wilsey is expecting the exhibition to be enormously popular, drawing football fans not just from San Juan County, but from across the region.

"This is such a different exhibition for us," he said. "We've done them on history, we've done them on science, but never anything like this. Short of going to the Hall of Fame, this is the next best thing."

Admission to the show is $8 for adults, and $6 for seniors age 60 and older, military veterans and children ages 2 to 16. It will remain on display through Aug. 30.

The museum's other exhibition opening this weekend, "Inside Out," originated at the San Angelo (Texas) Museum of Art. The show is not quite as large as the "Gridiron Glory" exhibition, but Wilsey noted it still covers 3,500 to 4,000 square feet, and its subject matter is no less interesting.

A display from the Victorian era featuring a wire "bust improver," a wire bustle and stockings is included in the "Inside Out" exhibition opening this weekend at the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park.

The show covers more than 150 years of fashion, and visitors can see how women's undergarments progressed from bulky, torturous wire mesh bras, corsets and petticoats from the Victorian age to considerably less restrictive and more risqué or practical styles today.

A Freedom Trash Can adorned with discarded bras and stockings is part of the "Inside Out" exhibition at the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park.

The show's offerings advance through the flapper and jazz age of the 1920s and the Rosie the Riveter era of the 1940s to the torpedo bras of the 1950s, the feminist- and psychedelic-inspired attire of the 1960s, the MTV-influenced underwear of the 1980s and 1990s, and glamorous contemporary fashion styles, highlighted by a duplicate of a sequined dressed worn by Kim Kardashian in 2010 and a sequined hot pants ensemble that Lady Gaga wore to a 2017 fashion show.

The exhibition's highlights include a selfie station, where visitors can pose for a photo against a Rosie the Riveter-type background, and a Freedom Trash Can adorned in discarded bras and stockings that represents the rise of the feminist movement in the 1960s. Women visiting the exhibition are encouraged to choose from depictions of a selection of "instruments of torture" — cosmetics, high heels and false eyelashes, for example — and toss them in the trash can.

Admission to "Inside Out" is free. The show remains on display through July 12.

Call 505-599-1174 for more information about either exhibition.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or Support local journalism with a digital subscription: