The National Art Museum of Sport (NAMOS) is the largest and most diversified collection of sporting art in the U.S. Artist and former national squash champion Germain G. Glidden founded the museum in 1959, and it subsequently held its first exhibition in 1961 in the IBM Gallery of Science and Art in New York City.

Visitors interact with exhibit labels at the The National Art Museum of Sport.
The National Art Museum of Sport in the Efroymson Gallery at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, ca. 2018 Credit: The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

For a time, beginning in 1968, Madison Square Garden served as the museum’s home. Ten years later, it moved to the campus of the University of New Haven in West Haven, Connecticut. The collection also was exhibited during the 1968 Winter Olympics, and it came to Indianapolis for the 1987 Pan American Games, which began a new chapter in its history.

In September 1988, NAMOS announced plans to move to Indianapolis because of the city’s growing reputation as a sports center. Several local civic leaders, including James Morris, frank mckinney jr, J. Joseph Hale, David Shane, and representatives of the Lilly Endowment helped precipitate the move.

A visitor looks at a work of art depicting a gymnast in front of an American flag.
LeRoy Nieman’s 1985 Serigraph Golden Girl (Mary Lou Retton) at the National Art Museum of Sport, 2021 Credit: The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

The Endowment assisted relocation with a $625,000 grant, and the museum opened in January 1991 on the mezzanine level of Bank One Tower. Its initial exhibition, “Sport in Art from American Museums,” displayed 68 artworks from 50 of the nation’s most prestigious art museums and marked the museum’s 75th exhibition mounted since its founding.

In September 1993, the museum closed at the Bank One Tower location. Reasons cited included a poor location, an absence of marketing, and the failure to raise sufficient operating funds. The status of the collection, which includes over 250 paintings, drawings, and sculptures, plus 1,400 photographs, and ranges from a 5th-century-B.C. Greek sculpture to contemporary works, remained in doubt for several months. In July 1994, museum officials announced that it would relocate to the University Place Conference Center and Hotel on the Iupui campus.

Four pieces of art in a collage. The top left painting is of Babe Ruth; the top right painting is of four horses with riders; the bottom left painting is of Arnold Palmer golfing; and the bottom right is an illustration of people fishing.
A sampling of artwork in the National Museum of Sport, n.d. Credit: The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

In 2017, the NAMOS board and organization gave its entire collection to the Children’s Museum and dissolved. In March 2018, NAMOS opened in the Efroymson Pavilion of the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legend Experience.

Revised June 2021

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