WATERLOO — The National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum is re-opening its doors after a $1.4 million renovation.
A group of wrestling greats, including Dan Gable, came to the museum to celebrate the ribbon cutting with Gable beer from Singlespeed Brewing.
“I love it,” Gable said. “We’re about 90 percent done, and its so much more open. It’s upgraded.”
The renovation has expanded the wrestling room and added four kiosks for museum visitors to use.
“We have a part of the history of the state of Iowa,” Gable said. “We’ve done a lot in wrestling all throughout the state.”
For Gable, museums are about the future.
“There are so many things that are historic in here, but it’s still about the future, otherwise there won’t be anything added to this place,” Gable said during a speech at the re-opening. “I’m always looking ahead.”
John Bowlsby, National Wrestling Hall of Fame board member, Waterloo native and wrestling hall of famer, also spoke.
“This is a a community building,” Bowlsby said. “We’ll make room for everybody.”
Bowlsby encouraged people to get wrestling teams to the center. The highlight of the renovation is the expanded wrestling room.
You have free articles remaining.
“That really changed the game on what we can and will do with this museum,” said Kyle Klingman, museum director. “You need to have more lanes than just one, and we want to be so much more than what we’ve previously done.”
Mats for the wrestling room were delivered Wednesday night and placed under a large Gable quote: “Once you have wrestled everything else in life is easy.”
“The expanded wrestling room and the mat means we want Waterloo to make more wrestling history,” Gable said. “We’re looking out for the future.”
Part of the renovated room already is reserved for a practice.
The wrestling room stands side-by-side with historical context provided by the museum’s exhibits, Klingman said.
“That’s unique to any museum in the country, and we’re proud of that,” Klingman said. “(The wrestling room) really was the driving force behind what we were going to do.”
Since the museum opened Klingman has seen kids gravitate toward the wrestling room, even when it was smaller.
The renovation also expanded how interactive the museum is, with exhibits that allow patrons to see how they “measure up” to past and present wrestlers.
A new theater is another big part of the renovation. It can be used a meeting room and can show final matches of NCAA championships going back to 1937, Klingman said. “This is a great space to be able to educate and have multi-use.”
“It’s pretty amazing,” Gable said. “When I came before I only noticed the wrestling room. ... It was good before, but it’s very good right now.”