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News09 Apr 2023

MOWA Heritage Athletics Exhibition Budapest 2023 opens


The MOWA Heritage Athletics Exhibition Budapest 2023 (© Laszlo Zsigmond)

A truly spectacular and unique exhibition was opened at Etele Plaza in Budapest at the beginning of April, showcasing the history of international and Hungarian athletics in an interactive way.

The exhibition of the Museum of World Athletics (MOWA) opened its doors in Budapest ahead of this year’s 2023 World Athletics Championships. The collection of athletics memorabilia displayed in the exhibition, established by World Athletics in 2018, aims to appeal not only to fans but also to those who had little or no previous connection with athletics.

MOWA is the first sports museum in the world also to have a permanent exhibition entirely created in the digital world, bringing a new level of innovation and creative technology to the world of sport. The museum offers visitors a unique 3D online experience, where they can learn about the most important champions and record breakers, but also take a virtual tour of past World Championships. 

In the exhibition, visitors are able to simultaneously view 600 square metres of real, physical exhibits and objects, such as walking under a high jump bar set to a World Championship record height, or lifting an actual discus, while exploring the virtual museum on LED monitors.

"This is the largest and most diverse collection of athletics memorabilia ever assembled," said Christopher Turner, curator of the MOWA exhibition. "Visitors can learn about the entire history of track and field and its greatest champions, from Jesse Owens to Usain Bolt, Fanny Blankers-Koen to Allyson Felix. This exhibition would not have been possible without the athletes who have given us some very special relics. They want their careers to be part of history."

Among the exhibits is the javelin with which Jan Zelezny threw the current world record, Usain Bolt's vest from the 200m final at the 2011 World Championships and the shoes Mondo Duplantis wore when he vaulted the world pole vault record of 6.18m in 2020. Visitors can personally experience the real distance of Jonathan Edwards' triple jump world record of 18.29m, or lift a 7.26kg shot which Ryan Crouser is able to throw more than 23 metres.

"The most important mission of the exhibition is to raise awareness of athletics among people who previously had nothing to do with athletics apart from perhaps knowing the name of Usain Bolt. We're in the perfect place to do that, in a busy mall where we can reach a lot of people. This exhibition should also get a lot of people excited about the World Championships in Budapest in less than five months' time," said Turner, who has been working at World Athletics since 2002.

MOWA Budapest takes visitors on an interactive journey through the history of athletics, highlighting many of the legends of the sport. 

After months of planning, it took four weeks to build the exhibition, which not only looks back on 40 years of the World Athletics Championships, but also has a special display dedicated to the history of Hungarian athletics, which boasts a 125-year history. There are many Hungarian athletics artefacts such as the handmade hammer of Olympic champion Gyula Zsivotzky.

We recommend everybody visits the Museum of World Athletics Heritage Athletics Exhibition on the 3rd floor of Etele Plaza, which will be open to the public for free from 3 April to 27 August 2023.

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