We all remember this, right?
It was 1994, and figure skater Nancy Kerrigan was training for the U.S. championships in Detroit. She was walking off the ice after her session when a man named Shane Stant struck her slightly above her right knee with a metal baton. It turned out Stant had been hired to carry out the attack by Jeff Gillooly, the ex-husband of fellow figure skater Tonya Harding, and Shawn Eckardt, Harding’s bodyguard.
People just about lost their minds over this story during the run-up to the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics, and the figure skating short program at those Games (featuring both Kerrigan and Harding) garnered the sixth-highest TV ratings in U.S. television history at the time, behind only the last episode of “M*A*S*H,” the “Who Shot J.R.?” episode of “Dallas,” the finale of “Roots” and two Super Bowls.
This momentous pop-culture occasion is now getting the limited commemorative respect it probably deserves, with a museum in a hallway in a Brooklyn apartment.
Viviana Olen and Matt Harkins, two twenty-something comedians, are curators of the Tonya Harding Nancy Kerrigan 1994 Museum. There’s a professional-looking Web site, and Olen and Harkins raised more than $2,000 via Kickstarter to open the museum, according to the Daily Beast.
“It is a very real museum with very real artifacts in a very long hallway that would have just been wasted space,” Olen and Harkins write on their site.
— Matt and Viviana (@MattandViviana) April 14, 2015
Here’s the Daily Beast with more on their collection, which began to pile up after Olen and Harkins watched an ESPN documentary on the affair:
Olen and Harkins also met “very cool older women,” Olen says, like Mary Alice Kellogg and Lois Elfman, two journalists who covered the knee-whacking scandal. Kellogg gossiped with Olen and Harkins over wine at her West Village apartment and gave them an autographed copy of TV Digest with Kerrigan on the cover (she wrote the story).
It’s one of the framed artifacts in their hallway museum, along with various other news and tabloid coverage of the juicy Olympic drama: “Tonya’s Double-Cross” on a February 1994 cover of Star; “Tonya’s World” covering People magazine the same month; Time magazine’s issue on the “Star-Crossed Olympics.” …
There’s some Nancy Kerrigan memorabilia culled from eBay, including trading cards of the figure skater, as well as contributions from artists around the country: needlepoint portraits of Harding and Kerrigan and a cartoon depicting these dual archetypes as the twins in The Shining. One woman who funded the project drove up from the DC area to help Olen and Harkins with lighting design and fabric.
“It feels like a chain of art,” says Olen. “Working with other people is the fun part.”
The opening gala for the museum is Saturday at a Brooklyn theater (buy tickets here!). There will be swag bags. Tours of the museum can be arranged by contacting the curators. “No charge, but please don’t try anything weird and if you want to, you know, leave a little something on our dresser we won’t say anything,” they write.