New Jersey Hall of Fame gains admission to FDU when its Mobile Museum visits Metro Campus


The New Jersey Hall of Fame's Mobile Museum, a specially modified tractor-trailer, brings New Jersey history to residents all over the state. The museum visited FDU's Metropolitan Campus from March 7-9. (Photos by Dan Landau)

By Dan Landau

Everyone needs a hero. That’s the slogan of the New Jersey Hall of Fame, and with its Mobile Museum, the institution brought a panel of heroes to Fairleigh Dickinson University for a few days in March. Packed with exhibits on New Jersey luminaries including inventor Thomas Edison, nurse and American Red Cross founder Clara Barton, and musician Jon Bon Jovi, the Mobile Museum aims to stoke state pride everywhere it goes.

“You find out how influential New Jersey has been,” says Matt Cecere, a graduate student in education, of the museum. “It’s really surprising to find out who is from here. I, for one, did not know that Shaq[uille O’Neal] was from New Jersey.”

njhofmm2Consisting of a specially modified tractor-trailer, the museum expands to nearly 1,000 square feet of exhibit space when parked. Built around the theme “Progress Endures,” the museum highlights members of the hall of fame with artifacts and interactive exhibits, including one of Thomas Edison’s original light bulbs, a jacket Jon Bon Jovi wore on his 1980s “New Jersey Tour,” an original Les Paul guitar, and inspirational quotes from football legend Vince Lombardi.

The museum parked in the North Lot, near the Northpoint Residence Hall, from March 7-9 and hosted several hundred visitors from the FDU and local communities.

Each exhibit in the museum focuses on important chapters in New Jersey’s history and the social, economic, scientific, cultural, and political progress the hall of fame inductees are known for.

njhofmm4Above: A jacket Jon Bon Jovi wore on tour in the 1980s and a 1952 Goldtop guitar designed by Les Paul.

“I heard about the museum on Twitter, and I just had to bring it here,” says Jessica O’Brien, née Harris, director of student life at the Metropolitan Campus. “It’s a great way to get New Jersey history to the students. New Jersey gets a bad rap all the time and even its own citizens forget how many amazing people come from the Garden State.

“Everything in the museum is interactive — there are touch screens, audio and video recordings, etc. It’s a great way to engage our millennial students. It was good for our University Core classes too. The museum came with free curriculum for educators and we were able to use it in the Preparing for Professional Life class,” continues O’Brien.

Chris Schupenko, a senior majoring in humanities, works at a local museum and he appreciated the interactivity and mobility of the Mobile Museum. “It’s a cool concept,” he says. “The museum doesn’t have a permanent home, so the Hall of Fame can bring it to everybody in different places in the state.”

The main takeaway for many of the museum’s visitors was that New Jersey has produced an inspiring roster of greats in all manner of fields, from entertainers like Danny Devito and Michael Douglas, to inventors like Edison, to government leaders like President Woodrow Wilson and Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, Jr.

“Seeing the Hall of Fame museum shows that you can go places and achieve things. Who knew Jersey people could be so famous?” says Janoo Patel, who is studying physical therapy. “I didn’t know half these people were from New Jersey.”