EAGAN, Minn. – A new space dedicated to Vikings team history has Bud Grant's seal of approval.
From early football in Minnesota to the Minneapolis Miracle, the Vikings Museum chronicles significant moments in franchise history in a sparkling, 14,000-square-foot facility that is part of Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.
Located just south of TCO Stadium and adjacent to the Vikings Locker Room Store, the museum features exhibits on the evolution of the team's logo and uniforms, permanent home venues and the accomplishments of players and coaches over the years.
" 'Impressive' is not the right word. It's awesome," Grant told Vikings.com after touring the exhibits for the first time. "It's going to be self-promoted, because anybody who goes here is going to tell all their friends and neighbors to come here."
Added Grant: "Everybody's got to see it once."
The storied head coach was among the museum's first visitors, when he joined four fellow Pro Football Hall of Famers at a special event to unveil the space for Vikings Legends.
Vikings Director of Brand & Creative Erin Swartz played a significant role in the project and expressed excitement to open the museum in time for Verizon Vikings Training Camp, which kicks off Wednesday.
"We have been working hard to obtain the most complete Vikings history collection – meeting with hundreds of fans, learning their stories and collecting amazing artifacts," said Swartz. "We are thrilled to open the doors and share these stories with all of our fans for the first time."
Added Swartz: "Hopefully this is just the beginning, and fans will continue to share with us their incredible Vikings memories and pieces of history."
In addition to diving through decades of historic artifacts, attendees can flip through a digital book about the 50 Greatest Vikings, watch the top plays in franchise history, listen to audio clips from every head coach, share their favorite Vikings memories and relive their passion for the Vikings with future generations.
"They've highlighted all the Vikings important moments and personnel and history – it's all there. So if you're a Vikings fan, you don't want to miss it," Grant said. "[And] if you're not a Vikings fan, you'll certainly become one if you look at all the artifacts that they have here."
Here are eight must-see highlights when traveling through decades of Vikings lore.
1. Grant exhibit
It's impossible to recount Vikings history without a significant ode to Grant, the only man to ever play in the NBA and the NFL.
An entire exhibit is dedicated to Grant, the second head coach in Vikings history, who held the reins from 1967-83 and then came out of retirement to coach one more season in 1985.
Fans will be treated to a unique chronicling of Grant's story – his time as a college and professional athlete, as a coach for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and with the Vikings – through a series of fascinating artifacts.
Among many one-of-a-kind or rare items within the legendary coach's exhibit are his 1969 PFWA Coach of the Year trophy, which Grant received after just his third season in Minnesota, and a trading card from Grant's stint with the NBA Champion Minneapolis Lakers.
2. "Frozen in Time" Ice Columns
Sure to be a fan favorite, the "Frozen in Time" exhibit honors the six Vikings Legends whose jersey numbers have been retired: Fran Tarkenton (10), Alan Page (88), Jim Marshall (70), Korey Stringer (77), Mick Tingelhoff (53) and Cris Carter (80).
Creatively designed columns topped with shards of "ice" give the appearance of freezing the players' jerseys – and accompanying artifacts – and preserving them for years to come.
Be sure to check out Tingelhoff's Hall of Fame bust, Carter's Walter Payton Man of the Year trophy and Page's 1971 MVP trophy, among numerous historic items.
3. Original founding documents
The Vikings franchise was founded in 1961, but do you know the full story?
An exhibit at the Vikings Museum allows fans to take a trip back in time and learn more about how the Vikings came to be: from the NFL awarding Minnesota a team; to the concept, design and execution of the team logo and uniforms; to the founding partners and Norm Van Brocklin, the Vikings first head coach.
Perhaps most interesting in the exhibit are the original illustrations for Vikings uniforms drawn by Karl Hubenthal.
4. Decade of Dominance
The Vikings closed their first decade on the rise, finishing the 1969 season with a 12-2 mark in the regular season.
Minnesota followed with home wins against the Los Angeles Rams (23-20) on Dec. 29 and the Cleveland Browns (27-7) on Jan. 4, 1970.
That team was part of a Vikings "decade of dominance" after transitioning from a fledgling franchise into a revered and resolute squad. From 1968-77, the Vikings went 104-35-1 in 10 regular seasons and won nine division titles. Minnesota won three NFC Championship Games and advanced to four Super Bowls.
The Vikings developed an iconic identity that was recognized from coast to coast, and numerous artifacts chronicle the team's climb.
As things looked up for the Vikings, goalposts were in danger of coming down. On display in the museum is a segment of goalpost that marks Minnesota's victory over Cleveland in the 1969 NFL Championship to advance to Super Bowl IV.
5. Game-ball Wall
A common practice throughout the NFL is presenting a player with a game ball, often recognizing an exceptional performance or play.
The Vikings have awarded game balls over the years for individual achievements or to acknowledge an honor, such as being named to the All-Decade Team. There also is a team game ball custom-painted each year to represent the respective season as a whole.
Fans at the museum can view a uniquely designed wall that features 54 game balls – each one representing an important moment or distinction in Vikings history. A digital kiosk accompanying the display includes information about each football.
Significant accomplishments represented range from Joe Kapp tying an NFL record with seven touchdown passes against Baltimore (Sept. 28, 1969) to Daunte Culpepper passing for a franchise-best 4,717 yards (2004).
6. A nod to Randy Moss
The Vikings Museum highlights 14 Hall of Fame players, including 2018 enshrinee Randy Moss.
Moss, who was inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor last year, also is featured in an exhibit that highlights the 1998 and 2000 Vikings seasons.
Artifacts that help tell the story of Moss' incredible rookie season and impact he made on the NFL include cleats that he wore during the historic '98 campaign, an authentic jersey and helmet, and – of course – the collectable "Three Deep" poster produced of Moss alongside Carter and Jake Reed.
7. Metrodome memories
Those who grew up watching the Vikings in the '80s and '90s likely have memories of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, which opened in 1982 and hosted its final Vikings game on Dec. 29, 2013.
The museum features a nod to each of the three long-term Vikings homes – Metropolitan Stadium, the Metrodome and U.S. Bank Stadium – and the Metrodome features a number of nostalgic artifacts. Included in the display is a scale model of the iconic, billowing roof, constructed from original Metrodome roof fabric; two types of artificial turf that were used in the venue; the recognizable blue seats; and a turnstile.