LOUISVILLE, KY (June 8, 2021) — For the first time ever, the Muhammad Ali Center is able to open up its archival collection and offer online exhibits for the world to experience as a way to extend Muhammad Ali’s global reach. The launch of the Center’s new digital museum and archives was specifically planned to be introduced during the annual Ali Festival, and on what would have been the birthday of LeRoy Neiman, a longtime friend of Muhammad Ali’s. “Ali and Neiman: A Friendship in Art” is the Ali Center’s first ever digital museum exhibit which opened today. “Ali and Neiman” will highlight artwork created by both men and will also feature candid photographs and notes written by Mr. Neiman. It is linked to the Muhammad Ali archival collection, made available to the public, and is accessible through the Ali Center’s website, at muhammadali.historyit.com. While the digitization of the Ali Center’s archival items is an ongoing process, this new offering will roll out initially with items from its: Permanent Collection, Greatest of All Time Collection, and Oral History Archive. Eventually, the digital archives will include items from other collections.
The digital museum and archives was launched in partnership with HistoryIT, which was responsible for creating the website and for the migration of some of the items, and was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences through a $50,000 grant.
“Because Muhammad meant so much to so many people around the world, it has been our dream to make available items in our collection to online audiences everywhere,” said Laura Douglas, President and CEO of the Muhammad Ali Center. “Having HistoryIT as a partner in helping us achieve this goal will create an accessible, searchable, and meaningful experience for anyone interested in knowing more intimate details about Muhammad’s life and legacy. Because LeRoy Neiman was part of Muhammad’s legacy for decades, we are delighted to honor both of these greats through our first ever online exhibit. Our thanks go out to HistoryIT and the IMLS for their support, and the LeRoy Neiman and Janet Byrne Neiman Foundation for donating the majority of the artwork to the Center.”
Artist LeRoy Neiman is known for his brilliantly colored, expressionist paintings and screen prints of athletes, musicians, and sporting events, including official posters for the Kentucky Derby, Ryder Cup, and the Ali Center’s grand opening. LeRoy and Muhammad met in 1962 while Ali was preparing for a match against Billy Daniels in Harlem, New York. The fight took place in Neiman’s neighborhood, so he quickly found his way into the press section, and eventually into Ali’s dressing room. This chance meeting in Harlem sparked a friendship that continued through the entirety of the two men’ lives. Ali and Neiman remained friends until LeRoy’s passing in 2012.
Kristen Gwinn-Becker, Founder and CEO of HistoryIT, said, “We are thrilled to partner with the Muhammad Ali Center and support their new digital museum on our Odyssey platform. Our mission is to save history. Digitally preserving and sharing Ali’s legacy ensures that his life, achievements and core principles reach an even broader audience. Perhaps most importantly, the Ali Center’s effort to digitally preserve their collections secures these lessons for future generations.”
Credit for Photo: Photo on Loan to the Muhammad Ali Center Courtesy of the LeRoy Neiman and Janet Byrne Neiman Foundation.
About the Muhammad Ali Center
The Muhammad Ali Center, a 501(c)3 corporation, was cofounded by Muhammad Ali and his wife Lonnie in their hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. The international cultural center promotes the Six Core Principles of Muhammad Ali (Confidence, Conviction, Dedication, Giving, Respect, and Spirituality) in ways that inspire personal and global greatness and provides programming and events around the focus areas of education, racial and gender equity, and global citizenship. The Ali Center is formally associated with the United Nations Department of Global Communications, and in 2020, became one of the newest stops on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail. The Center’s headquarters also contains an award-winning museum experience. For more information, please visit www.alicenter.org.
HistoryIT gives history a future. We offer a comprehensive set of services and software that transform archival materials, from whatever state they are in, into a 21st Century digital collection. Odyssey, our proprietary digital preservation software, enables any organization to not only manage their archival and collections assets, but also make their history easily accessible via a best-in-class digital museum. For more information, please visit historyit.com.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
About the Ali Festival
The Ali Festival, a community-wide celebration that marks the anniversary of Muhammad Ali’s passing and celebrates his legacy and love for Louisville, occurs annually in Ali’s hometown of Louisville. Presented by the Muhammad Ali Center, and in collaboration with community partners, the Ali Festival features events and activities that highlight different facets of Muhammad’s life in ways that unite and inspire the Louisville community and beyond. Ali passed away on June 3, 2016. The 2021 Ali Festival runs from June 3-13.
Muhammad Ali Center
(502) 992.5301 or (502) 640.6077
Muhammad Ali Center
(502) 992.5338 or (502) 645.5929