The primary mission of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum (ITHF&M) is to foster an appreciation of the historical development of tennis and its important figures and the sport’s impact on our culture, as well as the history of the Newport Casino. One of the ways we fulfill our mission is through the strength of our collections.
Why We Collect
We collect to recognize and record the rich history of the sport and the people who bring that sport to life. Sport, in general, is intrinsic to the human experience. Its richness, variety, beauty, passion and rewards are undeniable, and sport is an element of virtually every culture around the globe. The forms sport takes—and the things that are made for it, and about it—are expressions of the nature of those cultures. The sports we invent and play tell as much about us—who we've been, who we are, who we aspire to be—as our art, music, literature, traditions and ceremonies. All humans play, and that play in the form of sport can provide an avenue to learn about competition, cooperation, and the limits and the capabilities of our own bodies, minds, and spirits. Because of this, sport can transcend, and even breakdown cultural and societal barriers, allowing us to understand and appreciate what we have in common.
Through the materials we collect, the ITHF&M brings recognition of tennis’ importance in history and popular culture to the masses. The ITHF&M also collects in order to protect things of value to the international tennis community against the passing of time and the fading of memory. The record of tennis and its great figures is embodied in historical objects and materials. If the ITHF&M is not there to collect the tangible history of tennis, and if we are not there to protect it, preserve it, interpret it and share it with others, then we have failed in our mission. Gathering and guarding historical materials creates opportunities for understanding that cannot be achieved in any other way. Gathering and protecting such materials is a public trust and a public duty and central to our mission.
What We Collect
The ITHF&M’s permanent collections encompass a wide range of materials and mediums. The Permanent Collection consists of objects of museum quality that hold historical significance, cultural significance, demonstrative power, or illustrative power related to the mission of the Museum. We have five broad areas within the Museum that make up the permanent collection.
The Museum’s artifact collection contains more than 16,000 objects that cover the spectrum of categories and mediums, and date from the 16th Century through the modern day. Whether it is fine art, trophies, equipment, clothing, or furniture, the Museum has it covered.
The Museum has many examples of fine art—such as paintings, sculpture, prints (including vintage posters) and drawings—and a wide assortment of decorative arts objects such as figurines, ceramics, glass, and jewelry. We have many trophies and awards presented to the games’ champions. The tools of the trade—tennis racquets, presses, balls and ball containers, and other equipment—are plentiful. We collect rare and unique pieces of tennis equipment as well as match-used items from significant players and our Hall of Famers. The Museum’s clothing and textile collection dates from the late 19th Century to today, and includes some very unique fashions.
The Artifact Collection also contains many items of ephemera-- such as postcards, modern-era tournament posters, tournament tickets and badges, and draw-sheets—as well as rare and unique photographs and books that are not housed within the Archives or Library collections. The Museum also collects memorabilia related to significant players and our Hall of Famers. And finally, as the historic Newport Casino is the home of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, we have many striking pieces of original furnishings, architectural components, and items of social history that document this National Historic Landmark.
Audio Visual Materials
This area of the collection contains approximately 4,000 items, which include film, as well as various video- and audiotape formats. Digitization of our video and audio collection is underway, and many of the events, tournaments and ceremonies held at the Newport Casino are available in digital format. For more detailed information about the Museum’s Audio Visual Archives, please check out the Information Research Center’s webpage.
This area of the collection contains approximately 300,000 still images, which include, but is not limited to: negatives, photographic prints, slides, transparencies, and digital images. For more detailed information about the Museum’s Photographic Archives, please check out the Information Research Center’s webpage.
This area of the collection contains more than 450 linear feet of materials, which include paper-based materials such as manuscripts, correspondence, scrapbooks, journals, diaries, and blueprints, as well as International Tennis Hall of Fame and Newport Casino records and documents. For more detailed information about the Museum’s Archives, please check out the Information Research Center’s webpage.
This area of the collection numbers more than 5,000 titles and includes: books, periodicals, serial publications, tournament programs, media guides, annual and semi-annual publications, and scholarly works. For more detailed information about the Museum’s Library Collection, please check out the Information Research Center’s webpage.
How We Protect the Legacy of Tennis
The ITHF&M strives to build the most comprehensive and quality collection that traces the history of tennis and the Newport Casino. Pursuant to our mission, the Museum employs several professionally trained staff whose responsibility it is to document and research, preserve and protect, and interpret and present the collections for a diverse audience. The Museum Staff adheres to the American Association of Museums’ Code of Ethics and has established policies and procedures that are in-line with industry standards.
The Museum Staff spends considerable time researching the materials within our permanent collections in order to more fully document the history of an item. The research and knowledge the Museum Staff compiles while working daily with the collections allows us to develop informative, insightful, and exciting stories, exhibits and programs to share with the public. We are happy to help members of the public with their research needs about tennis, the Newport Casino or about artifacts in their possession; for detailed information about our Reference Services, please click here.
If you are interested in learning more about museum practices or how you can help us protect the legacy of tennis, please contact a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum Staff.