Manfred Bergman has been collecting Olympic memorabilia since 1936.

Now he has more stamps and pins and coins than he can count ? or at least more than he'd care to reveal to law enforcement in his native Switzerland.

"The police would be after me," Bergman says with a wink.

He's kidding, of course. But not about the size of his collection. As director of the Olympic Collectors Commission, he has amassed a lifetime of trinkets, an assemblage that's part of the Olympic Museum Exhibition in the Salt Lake City-County Building.

The free display, open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. until Feb. 24, is something of a traveling IOC expo, with some collectibles taken from the International Olympic Committee's museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, and the rest coming from private collections.

All together, the Salt Lake ensemble is the largest ever for a Winter Olympics since the displays began appearing in host cities in 1984. "It's the first time we have everything together ? stamps, coins, everything," Bergman said.

The display features photos and medals from past Games, costumes from Lillehammer's opening ceremonies and easel after easel of stamps, pins and postcards. Basement walls are lined with Olympic posters, depicting the old (the 1932 Lake Placid Games) and ambitious (South Korea's bid for the 2010 Winter Games).

Organizers hope to draw 50,000 visitors to the makeshift museum, "so people get the idea what the Olympic Games are all about," Bergman said.

The display is part of the IOC's museum transplants, but it's the only one available to the public.

At the Main Media Center, there are stuffed animal Olympic mascots and press passes from former Games. At the Olympic Village, the IOC's minimuseum is more about future than past: Athletes are invited to donate skates, sticks or ski poles ? in short, leave something for tomorrow's glass cases in Lausanne.

The IOC has tailored the exhibit for families "to get the kids to start collecting," Bergman said.

Children can buy Olympic stamps and have them postmarked by the IOC, as well as design their own stamps, pins and coins for a contest. The winner receives a trip to the IOC museum in Lausanne.

The five-story museum, after all, is the Shangri-la of Olympic lore. Get Bergman talking about it, about his love for everything Olympic and Games memorabilia in particular, and he gushes.

"A collection is more than just a newspaper," Bergman said. "We can always read a newspaper, a book, or watch television. But there's nothing for you. This is a live souvenir for yourself."

E-mail: slewis@desnews.com