It may surprise even the most die-hard sports fans, but NY1's Stephanie Simon says this year’s Super Bowl experience would be "incomplete" without a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
There's plenty of great football action at the Met, not MetLife Stadium where the Super Bowl is taking place, but at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is hosting a new exhibit of vintage footbal cards.
Freyda Spira, curator of “Gridiron Greats,” said the show is a rarity.
NY1: A pop up show at the metropolitan museum of art? That’s’ about as rare as these cards.
Spira: That’s right. The Met has never done a pop-up show before, but we thought this was the perfect opportunity to get out material we've been wanting to show, and to put it out for fans who are coming to New York for the Super Bowl.
“Gridiron Greats” is a small but historically significant show.
“For the football fan, I think they'll really be interested to see the sport really began as a collegiate sport in the 1890's and we have the earliest set that was produced,” said Spira.
And the later giants of the game.
“So these players like Frank Gifford and Johnny Unitas are still household names today,” said Spira. “These three great legends of football, Knute Rockne, a great coach at Notre Dame, Jim Thorpe, who also competed at the Olympics and Red Grange, who was known as ‘The Galloping Ghost.’”
“We have great players like Sid Luckman and Charlies ‘ChooChoo’ Justice, one of my favorites, and then we have this really important card of Kenny Washington who was the first African American to break the color barrier in the professional leagues,” said Spira.
The cards are in the Met's permanent collection because they’re examples of Americana and printmaking, but they also trace the history of the sports card phenomenon.
“Football, baseball all kinds of cards were inserted into products like tobacco, candy and gum, bakery items, all kind of things, to sell the products. So right after the Civil War, companies came up with advertising inserts to put into these kinds of products,” said Spira.
This is a very exciting exhibit, but remember, no chest bumping, no high fives and no victory dancing. This is still the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
So let these be your "wild card" for an exciting Super Bowl celebration. The exhibit runs through February 10.
For more information, go to www.metmuseum.org.