Charlotte Hornets history exhibit ‘Hive at 35’ will display memorabilia dating back to inaugural season

By Cameron Lee

October 5, 2023 (updated)

The Charlotte Hornets are celebrating their 35th anniversary this season. With a new ownership group now intact, along with LaMelo Ball signed to a multi-year deal, there is renewed hope for the fan base. For Charlotteans who have lived in the city since the team’s inception in 1988, the original Hornets logo represents fond memories of the Coliseum and the 364 consecutive sold-out games it once housed. For many casual NBA fans, the Hornets brand evokes nostalgia through apparel like the classic Starter jackets of the ‘90s and the memorable Larry Johnson “Grandmama” Converse ad campaign. No matter what kind of fan you are, the Hornets remain an endearing brand. While the franchise has had its share of challenges through the years, there’s certainly no shortage of cool memorabilia. 

The Hive at 35 exhibit will open at Charlotte Museum of History on October 10. Courtesy of the Charlotte Museum of History

In honor of 35th anniversary, a new exhibit at the Charlotte Museum of History will now showcase Hornets’ history and culture. The Hive at 35 exhibit will feature artifacts dating back to the team’s inaugural season in 1988-89 with interactive spaces and a timeline of professional basketball history in North Carolina. The exhibit will include game-worn jerseys and shoes, with pieces representing multiple eras of the Hornets, Bobcats, and the WNBA’s Sting. Commemorative items from the Hornets’ and Bobcats’ inaugural season, and the return of the Hornets name in 2014 will also be on display.

The Hive at 35 exhibit features artifacts dating back to the team’s inaugural season in 1988-89.

“We’re excited to share this in-depth look at our history with our fans as we celebrate our 35th anniversary,” said Hornets President and Vice Chairman Fred Whitfield. “We’re pleased to be teaming with the Charlotte Museum of History on an exhibit that will be entertaining and educational to Hornets fans and museum patrons alike.”

Some of the items you can expect to see at the exhibit are a basketball autographed by the entire inaugural 1988-89 team, game-worn shoes from Hornets legends Dell Curry and Alonzo Mourning, commemorative tickets and game programs from the inaugural Charlotte Hornets game, and Charlotte Sting jerseys worn by WNBA All-Stars Vicky Bullett and Allison Feaster. 

Some of the items that will be on display at the ‘Hive at 35’ exhibit opening October 10 at Charlotte Museum of History. Photo: Foil Creative

“The story of the Charlotte Hornets is an important part of our city’s cultural history,” said Terri L. White, president and CEO of the Charlotte Museum of History. “The Hive at 35 exhibit will inspire lots of nostalgia among long-time Charlotteans and will invite newcomers to learn more about the history of our city in a way that’s fun and engaging.” 

The ‘Hive at 35’ exhibit opens October 10 at Charlotte Museum of History.

Fans can also participate in the exhibit through the Hive Drive campaign, by donating as little as $5 to have their names displayed in a digital list of supporters on the exhibit’s website. The funds raised through the Hive Drive will help support the creation of the exhibition, including fabrication of the displays, housing of the artifacts, and activities.

Autographed basketball signed by the entire inaugural Charlotte Hornets 1988-89 team will be on display at ‘Hive at 35’ exhibit.

The Hive at 35 exhibit is included as part of regular museum admission at Charlotte Museum of History. All Hornets season ticket holders will receive a single-day pass for free museum admission to view the exhibit.


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