From the moment you step into the entrance of the new Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum, you realize you’re about to be treated to something special.
The curved white stone ceiling and walls of the cave-like entrance hall draw you in. Immediately in front is a white staircase that leads to the main exhibition area on the second floor.
To the left of the entranceway is a room that contains the Hall of Fame Wall of Honor where the name of every inductee is listed on a lit panel that takes up almost the entire wall.
The $23 million museum opened to the media, Hall of Fame members and guests who paid $125 for the privilege to be the first ones to see it Friday night in Natchitoches.
It is located at one end of Front Street beside the Cane River, site of the famed Natchitoches Christmas Lights festival. The exterior of the museum has its own distinctive look but it blends in well with the quaint historic buildings on Front Street.
There are glass-encased exhibits in the Wall of Honor room, including one on Louisiana athletes in the Olympics.
In the middle of the wall of honor of is an interactive screen where guests can type in a Hall of Famers’ name and call up a photo and bio of the member.
There is also a video screen showing great moments in the history of Louisiana sports.
The main exhibition upstairs is a contrast to the downstairs. There is subdued lighting with exhibit cases featuring memorabilia donated by Hall of Fame members. The display areas are divided into fall, winter and spring/summer sports. There is a separate outdoors sports exhibit area near the history portion of the museum, which includes paintings by Clementine Hunter.
The museum opens to the public on Tuesday. One of the best things about it is that the cost is only $5 for adults with those 12-and-under getting in free.
It is definitely worth a trip to Natchitoches to see.
Russell Hedges is the sports editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune. You can contact him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @russellhedges.