February 2006


Muhammad Ali Center

Muhammad Ali Center

Originally uploaded by elmada.

Today I made time, after doing laundry, to visit the Center that honors Louisville’s most famous citizen, Muhammad Ali.

Before visiting the museum I knew two factoids about the man: (a) he was a boxer; and (b) he lit the Olympic Torch in Atlanta.

Seriously, that’s all I knew.

Now that I have attended the museum, I can add several more facts: (c) he is a man of peace; (d) he is an artist; (e) he has Parkinson’s Disease; and (f) he must be deaf.

Well—either he’s deaf or he has never visited the Muhammad Ali Center for the museum was the single noisiest and obnoxious museum I’ve ever visited. It started shortly after I watched a brief film about Muhammad Ali, when I stood in one spot and heard three distinct audio programs going on at once—competing, if you will, from different spots. From there it only got worse—I didn’t try to count, but I am fairly certain at one point that I skipped, there were probably at least six significant audio programs trying to compete with each other for my attention.

I gave up when a motion detector set off a gigantic vibrating punching bag that pulsated and bumped around like it was having an epileptic seizure.

The bedlam was too much–give me the relative peace and consistency of a Trance/Acid Rave, please!

There was so much noise that I found myself unable to read any of the displays to learn more about this vaguely significant man—instead I moved through the museum until I got to a quiet area, which was filled with computers promoting thing encouraging kids to pursue their personal best or something like that—suffice it to say that the educational content of this area was not that great—it was mostly feel good stuff, with nothing about Muhammad Ali.

I ended up spending no more than 45 minutes in the museum: it was a great relief to escape the noisy center and emerge into the comparatively quiet great outdoors, adjacent to a busy interstate.

My advice: don’t bother with this museum.

6 comments to Muhammad Ali Center

  • IUMike

    Fun fact: Muhammad Ali currently resides in Berrien Springs, MI…my dad’s hometown.

  • MT

    I’m still trying to get over the imagery of the vibrating … uh … punching bag.

  • ChrisC

    It sounds as if the meteor crater in Arizona is more entertaining even though it is just a hole in the ground.

  • I think a lot of it is the ability of people to absorb multiple audio inputs at once. I can only do two, and one of them can not be significantly mentally stimulating… This place was just loud and confusing: In contrast, nightclubs might be loud, but rarely do they have multiple streams of music targeting one space.

    Mashups don’t count–since that’s intentional and usually results in a way cool new piece.

  • It took many years for the city to finally get that center constructed. It was supposed to be an educational center promoting peace. I don’t think it was ever designed merely to be a museum in the usual sense — as only a history of his life.

    It sounds like another idea ruined by a committee.

    Unless his condition has changed recently he isn’t deaf, but he has been soft spoken for years. I’m not sure if he even talks in public anymore.

    I met Ali once. I watched him talk with anyone who wanted to meet him that day. Peace and working hard to fulfill your dreams were two running threads in his conversations.

    As an aside: Early on one of the conditions to building the center was Ali and his wife moving back to Louisville. I don’t know if his main home is there now or not.

  • I cannot see how the Ali Center will ever be successful at anything educational. It is way too noisy–never mind me and my annoyance at 6 audio imputs at once, I tried to imagine a teacher with a class of 20-30 students touring the center. Unless the group was confined to one of the auditoriums the teacher would never be able to get the attention of more than half the class at any one time. There is way too much going on there for it to work.

    Very sad.