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Indiana State Museum’s Major Taylor exhibit showcases cyclist’s legendary life and career

Indiana State Museum's Major Taylor exhibit showcases cyclist's legendary life and career

A downtown mural, a vivid book about his life and even a Hennessy commercial have vaulted the story of Marshall "Major" Taylor back into the…

Saturday, Mar 05

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A downtown mural, a vivid book about his life and even a Hennessy commercial have vaulted the story of Marshall "Major" Taylor back into the public eye over the last few years.

Now, the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites is digging into more layers of his life. "Major Taylor: Fastest Cyclist in the World" opens March 5 and runs through Oct. 23. The exhibit chronicles Taylor’s youth in Indianapolis, his rise to worldwide fame and his life post-retirement, when his notoriety declined.

More than that, it places the athlete’s achievements and fight against racism in the context of the turn-of-the-20th-century cycling boom and its effect on the Black community. Through games, the exhibit connects the cultural history to lessons in STEM, capturing the science behind Taylor’s speed and talent for strategy on the track.

Here are five areas visitors shouldn’t miss. Read Taylor’s own words

Taylor’s world records easily cement his iconic status as an athlete. What makes his story unforgettable, though, is what happened between the wins on the track. Through scrapbooks, letters and postcards, the cyclist chronicled his innermost victories, tender family moments and his fight against racism.

That these artifacts are so well preserved is a testament to his daughter, Rita Sydney Taylor Brown, who donated a trove of materials to the museum in 1988, said Kisha Tandy, curator of social history. Brown herself is in the exhibit, too — as a little girl photographed on a Peugeot bike like her dad’s and as the recipient of letters her […]

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