Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Celebrating Sports in American Communities Begins National Tour January 2014

Tour Kicks-off Super Bowl Week at the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center in New Jersey
December 5, 2013
News Release

Baseball. Soccer. Hockey. Bowling. Kickball. Surfing. People around the country are drawn to compete in these sports and many others. Still more gather on the sidelines to cheer for their favorite athletes and teams. Nowhere do Americans more intimately connect to sports than in their hometowns. The Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program will celebrate this connection in the new traveling exhibition “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America.”

A partnership of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and state humanities councils, MoMS will travel five copies of “Hometown Teams” on simultaneous yearlong tours of Idaho, Illinois, Nebraska, New Jersey and West Virginia beginning in January 2014. The Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center in Little Falls, N.J., will be the first to open Jan. 29, 2014, just four days and 10 miles away from MetLife Stadium, home to Super Bowl XLVIII Feb. 2. The exhibition will travel to 180 small towns in 30 states in six years. The full tour itinerary can be viewed online at MuseumOnMainStreet.org, and a short video about the exhibition can be viewed here.

“Hometown Teams” will capture the stories that unfold on the neighborhood fields and courts, and the underdog heroics, larger-than-life legends, fierce rivalries and gut-wrenching defeats. For more than 100 years, sports have reflected the trials and triumphs of the American experience and helped shape the national character. Whether it is professional sports or those played on the collegiate or scholastic level, amateur sports or sports played by kids on the local playground, sports are everywhere in America.

This project gives communities an opportunity to share these stories, celebrate local legends and collect memorabilia from the community. With the support and guidance of state humanities councils, these towns will develop complementary exhibits, host humanities programs and facilitate educational initiatives about sports and ideals such as team work, fair play, leadership and respect.

MoMS invites the public to share their local sports stories through the “Stories from Main Street” website at https://museumonmainstreet.org/stories or through the free mobile app available from the Mac App Store or the Google Play Store. Both platforms record and map the location reflected in the submission and will accept written and audio stories as well as videos and photos. Selected submitted stories to “Stories from Main Street” will be featured on the website and app. The archived stories will serve as a searchable record of the unique experiences of life in American small towns. Each story can be searched via location or by topic. 

Museum on Main Street is a partnership of the Smithsonian institution Traveling Exhibition Service and state humanities councils. It was created to serve museums, libraries and historical societies in rural areas, where one-fifth of all Americans live. The partnership with the state humanities councils was formed as a creative response to the challenge faced by these rural museums to enhance their own cultural legacies. Venues are encouraged to supplement the exhibitions with objects, stories and programs that celebrate local heritage and inspire community pride. Major funding for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the U.S. Congress.

State humanities councils located in each state and U.S. territory support community-based humanities programs that highlight such topics as local history, literature and cultural traditions.

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for 60 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science, and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play.  For exhibition description and tour schedules, visit https://www.sites.si.edu/s/

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SI-478A-1013

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Jennifer Schommer

(202) 633-3121

schommerj@si.edu