The backdrop of this year’s Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia presented a timely opportunity for the Art Committee of the Union Club in New York City to present the special program “Olympic Art at the Pinnacle of Success.” The Union Club is the oldest private social club ion New York City and hosts frequent events for members to experience the latest trends in literature and the arts, as well as sports competitions with other private clubs.
“Olympic Art at the Pinnacle of Success” is a new program that surveys the history of art at the ancient Olympic Games, the art traditions of the modern Olympic Games and the growing influence that Olympic organizations have achieved in art education and the art world. The recent reopening of the expanded International Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland and the new announcement of plans for a USA Olympic Museum to open in Colorado Springs in 2016 have heightened interest in this topic.
The presentation also spotlighted the many ways that Olympic collectors have become an important foundation of the global Olympic Spirit community. Olympic Collectors associations affiliated with the International Olympic Museum have attracted over 25,000 participants, as well as a core group of 600 supporters who assemble their own tributes to Olympic history and help local libraries and sports clubs organize special exhibitions. This year’s annual exhibition and sale will take place in Los Angeles July 25 to 27.
“Olympic Art at the Pinnacle of Success” introduced participants to several of the educational programs that are providing excellent research to make more Olympic art and history programs available to the public. The International Olympic Academy based in Olympia, Greece has developed a set of one and two week educations programs for graduate students, teachers and other working professionals to learn more about the Olympics and incorporate the knowledge in their profession. This includes a humanities program with Yale University that is helping to educate a new generation of art and museum curators with Olympic expertise. Olympic Studies has emerged as a dynamic and popular field for graduate students and post-doctoral researchers, under the leadership of an academic co-operative of the University of Loughborough, Autonomous University of Barcelona, German Sports University, Sydney Technology Institute, Beijing Sports University and the University of Western Ontario. This summer, AUB will offer a free online course in Olympic Studies based on new research. Russia International Olympic University launched in Sochi last year with a similar curriculum. A separate center for Olympic Studies in Lausanne, Switzerland is open to the public for free. The Olympic Studies programs encouraged by the IOC now offer special grant programs for graduate students and recent graduates to develop design concepts and architectural concepts customized for Olympic sports.
The extensive experience gained in Olympic studies training and programs organized by Olympic host committees has made it much easier to organize Olympic art and history exhibitions. The International Olympic Museum provided turnkey Olympic treasures exhibitions for the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics and a similar preview program in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Getty Images, the primary photography vendor used by Examiner.com and the U.S. Olympic Committee, has extensive archives available for Olympic exhibition organizers.