Lace ’em up! Lincoln museum explores roller skating history

National Museum of Roller skating in Lincoln, Nebraska
Roller skating remains popular around the globe.

Who knew that those skates you wore at your favorite roller rink as a kid date back to the mid-1700s? The folks at the National Museum of Roller Skating, did, that’s who. “National Museum of Roller Skating?” you ask. Yep, it’s headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Things to do in Lincoln, Nebraska
An early pair of incline skates.

The museum explores the history of roller skating, from their invention to today’s sports and dance competitions. Roller skates were initially designed using an inline style – three wheels in a single line. It wasn’t until almost a century later that we’d see the first four-wheeled skate, which quickly became popular.

National Museum of Roller skating
Four-wheeled skates became the most popular style after they were created.

Adjustable inline skates were developed in the early 1900s. Rollerblades – using four wheels in one line – caught on during the mid-1960s. Regardless of the style of wheels used, roller skating has been a national – nay, an international – hit from its beginning.

The roller skating museum – located inside the headquarters for USA Roller Sports – highlights some of the earliest roller skates. Manufacturers used wood for the wheels and soles. Roller skates have changed over the years, with today’s wheels made from a variety of resources, including rubber. Visitors can get to the nitty gritty of roller skates, checking out the shoes and wheel types. An entire board showcases wheels.

Evolution of Roller skating wheels
Wall of wheels.

Roller skate styles vary through the years, from the basic sole and straps to cowboy boots. Yep, I said cowboy boots.

Evolution of Roller Skates
I haven’t seen many cowboys on the range using these to herd cattle.

Roller competitions

The National Museum of Roller Skating shares the history of roller sports. I think most people think of hockey when it comes to roller sports. Did you know that roller sports include basketball and soccer?

Roller skating
Roller sports have been popular through the years.

Roller hockey made its debut in the 1870s in Scandinavia. It continues to be a popular sport internationally.

Roller skating
Roller hockey.

Dance competitions – also known as artistic skating – remain strong today. The performances are similar to ice skating, only with wheels. Roller dance became competitive during the 1930s. Ice skating Olympians have participated in roller skate dancing. Tara Lipinski competed as a roller skating dancer before going on to win a gold medal in ice skating at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics.

Roller sports on display at the National Roller Skating Museum
Dance costumes.

Roller derby remains a popular sport since its inception in the mid-1930s. The museum’s exhibit highlights the sport, including a poster of the movie “Whip it,” which starred Drew Barrymore, Ellen Page and Kristin Wiig as athletes in the sport. Omaha is home to the Rollergirls derby team. If you’ve not been to a match, I recommend watching one. They are fun and the athletes are competitive.

Roller Derby
Roller derby uniforms.

Overall, the National Museum of Roller Skating tells the history of the sport in an interesting format. The items on exhibit will intrigue visitors, from the pair of cowboy boot skates to some of the early days of roller skating. We recommend visiting the museum, which is only open weekdays during the office’s business hours.

For more information on the museum, please visit