LOUISVILLE, Ky. — You can now visit the Muhammad Ali Center without ever leaving your home. The museum announced Tuesday it's able to open up its archival collection and offer online exhibits for the first time.

What You Need To Know

  • Muhammad Ali Center is opening up its archival collection and offering online exhibits

  • The launch is taking place during the annual Ali Festival

  • The digital museum's first exhibit is "Ali and Neiman: A Friendship in Art"

  • LeRoy Neiman was a longtime friend of Ali's

The digital museum and archives are being introduced during the annual Ali Festival and on what would have been the 100th birthday of LeRoy Neiman, a longtime friend of Muhammad Ali.

The digital museum's first exhibit is "Ali and Neiman: A Friendship in Art." The exhibit will feature artwork created by both men, candid photographs and notes written by Neiman. It is linked to the Muhammad Ali archival collection, made available to the public, and is accessible through the Ali Center’s website, at https://muhammadali.odyssey.historyit.com/.

The center said that while digitization of the Ali Center's archival items is an ongoing process, the new offering will roll out initially with items from its Permanent Collection, Greatest of All Time Collection and Oral History Archive. Eventually, the digital archives will include items from other collections.

The digital museum and archives were launched in partnership with HistoryIT, which was responsible for creating the website and for the migration of the items. They were made possible in part through a $50,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences. 

Photo on Loan to the Muhammad Ali Center Courtesy of the LeRoy Neiman and Janet Byrne Neiman Foundation.

“Because Muhammad meant so much to so many people around the world, it has been our dream to make available items in our collection to online audiences everywhere,” said Laura Douglas, president and CEO of the Muhammad Ali Center. “Having HistoryIT as a partner in helping us achieve this goal will create an accessible, searchable, and meaningful experience for anyone interested in knowing more intimate details about Muhammad’s life and legacy. Because LeRoy Neiman was part of Muhammad’s legacy for decades, we are delighted to honor both of these greats through our first ever online exhibit. Our thanks go out to HistoryIT and the IMLS for their support, and the LeRoy Neiman and Janet Byrne Neiman Foundation for donating the majority of the artwork to the Center.”

Neiman was an artist known for his colorful, expressionist paintings and screen prints of athletes, musicians and sporting events, including official posters for the Kentucky Derby, Ryder Cup and the Ali Center's grand opening. Neiman and Ali met in 1962 while Ali was prepping for a match against Billy Daniels in Harlem. 

Kristen Gwinn-Becker, founder and CEO of HistoryIT, said, “We are thrilled to partner with the Muhammad Ali Center and support their new digital museum on our Odyssey platform. Our mission is to save history. Digitally preserving and sharing Ali’s legacy ensure that his life, achievements and core principles reach an even broader audience. Perhaps most importantly, the Ali Center’s effort to digitally preserve their collections secures these lessons for future generations.”