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Go Ask Mom

Destination: Carolina Basketball Museum

Posted February 7, 2013

I graduated from the University of Virginia. So did my husband.

But, despite our dressing our older daughter in orange and blue and teaching her "The Good Old Song" as a toddler, she declared her allegiance to Carolina at age 3. (I'm going to blame the Carolina-loving kids in her day care where she often was one of the few kids not wearing Carolina blue on "show your ACC spirit day.")

Nearly five years later, she remains a die hard Carolina fan with a closet full of Carolina blue to prove it. And, like most any parent, I support her passions.

So we've been to the Carolina Basketball Museum more than once. And, despite being a Virginia fan, I happily oblige because this place is both a shrine to Carolina basketball, but also a unique look at college basketball history. Carolina Basketball Museum Destination: Carolina Basketball Museum

The museum opened in 2008 after Tar Heel coaching legend Dean Smith donated his memorabilia and awards to UNC-Chapel Hill. There had been a memorabilia room at the Smith Center, but Carolina leaders wanted more room to tell the Carolina basketball story, Steve Kirschner, Carolina's director of athletic communications, tells me.

A group traveled to other sports museums across the country to get ideas and worked with a firm to design the space. Visitors start at a short video, then move into a basketball court-themed room where glass cases showcase items from players and coaches such as Phil Ford, Michael Jordan, Smith, Roy Williams and Tyler Hansbrough.

You'll find lots of video here and a touch screen where visitors can scroll through decades of teams and players - a highlight for both of my kids.

Visitors finish up in a couple of rooms dedicated to the trophies from Carolina's victories over the years, including ACC championships, Final Fours and national championships. Many of the trophies had been scattered across the campus in offices, on top of filing cabinets or tucked away elsewhere before the museum opened.

My older daughter, who now plays basketball, could have stayed for hours. She poured over the display cases and wanted to research every single team on the touch screen.

Other highlights for my kids: The stickers on the floor near a basketball net showing the distance from which players scored a basket, Hansbrough's giant shoes and former coach Bill Guthridge's collection of championship rings.

During our visit, Kirschner mentioned that there is a smaller space dedicated to the women's basketball team at Carmichael Arena. So we headed over there to check out the room, which also includes lots of videos, a touch screen with information about the teams over the decades and other information.

The Carolina Basketball Museum is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday. Hours can vary depending on games scheduled at the Smith Center that day, so be sure to check ahead. Admission is free.

Parking for museum guests is located across the street in the metered spaces of the Williamson Lot during regular business hours. Be sure to bring plenty of quarters to feed the meter.

Find the museum on the first floor of the Ernie Williamson Athletics Center, 450 Skipper Bowles Dr. Watch my video interview with Kirschner and check the museum's website for more information.

Go Ask Mom features places to take kids every Friday. Check our database of park and playground reviews and posts on Triangle family destinations for more ideas.

5 Comments

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  • FlyingUnderTheRadar Feb 10, 1:51 p.m.

    It was 'the rivalry' in Virginia, maybe not here...

  • packbackrb Feb 8, 4:06 p.m.

    This is SO SO WRONG - NCSU/UNC was "the rivalry" up until the time that Duke became a powerhouse. UVA/UNC was a good rivalry but certainly never "the" rivalry.

  • newssaavy72 Feb 8, 12:41 p.m.

    Die hard UNC fan and hubby is a MSW grad. Neice is a current junior at UNC. We have yet to get to the museum, but will eventually!!!!

  • shall6 Feb 8, 10:03 a.m.

    Ha! We've been joking about getting a UVA/UNC house divided flag! I need to check out Duke's. My husband and daughter saw it the other week ...

    Sarah

  • FlyingUnderTheRadar Feb 8, 7:07 a.m.

    I was born & raised in Virginia, and UVA/UNC was 'THE Rivalry' esp in the early 80's...I was the oddball in the area & liked DUKE...and...I married a UNC fan (yes, we have the 'house divided' house flag LOL!!)!!

    With all that being said...if you are an ACC fan or a basketball fan, this museum is a MUST SEE! We had guests from out of town, and also went to Duke's hall of honor...saw 9 NCAA Men's basketball trophies in one day...Tobacco Road rules baybeeeee!!