Hometown Teams will tour New Jersey from January 29-November 16, 2014; Tour Kicks-off Super Bowl Week at Yogi Berra Museum in Little Falls, N.J.

Trenton, NJ-— The New Jersey Council for the Humanities (NJCH), in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution Museum on Main Street Program and six host locations in New Jersey, welcomes the newest Smithsonian traveling exhibition, Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America, to the Garden State in 2014.

What does it mean to be on a team? Why are we such fans? How can—and often do—sports impact our lives?  Hometown Teams reveals how sports shape our culture, exploring the enduring connection between towns and the teams that play there.  Shedding light on stories that unfold on the neighborhood fields and courts, celebrating the underdogs and legends, exploring fierce team rivalries, and cheering on both admirable victories and gut-wrenching defeats, Hometown Teams captures small town spirit all the way up to the big leagues. 

 

New Jersey is one of five states chosen to premiere the exhibit and will be the first location in the country to premiere the exhibition, opening January 29 at the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center in Little Falls.  The full exhibition schedule is as follows:

January 29-March 16                     Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center, Little Falls/Montclair, NJ

March 22-May 4                              Atlantic City Free Public Library/Museum, Atlantic City, NJ

May 10-June 22                               Howell Living History Farm, Mercer County Parks Titusville, NJ

June 28-August 10                           Municipality of Bridgeton/Bridgeton Public Library, Bridgeton, NJ

August 16-September 28                 Hudson County Community College, Union City, NJ

                                                           

October 4-November 16                 Morris Museum, Morristown, NJ


And if we’re not playing sports, we’re watching them.  Hometown Teams will capture the inextricable connection between towns and their teams, their coaches, their cheerleaders, marching bands and their fans. The exhibit will feature artifacts, stories, and special events that will provide audiences a chance to explore how historic upsets, championship runs, rivalries, traditions, individuals and teams can leave an indelible mark on a community. An exhibition national in theme and local in scope, the local history and sports heritage of each New Jersey community hosting the exhibition will be highlighted.  As part of hosting the exhibit, each location hosting the exhibit will tell the stories of Hometown Teams from their communities, both through local exhibits and free public programs.

“New Jersey is a state of sports firsts; from organized baseball in Hoboken and the first college football game between Rutgers and Princeton to the creation of Ultimate Frisbee in Maplewood, sports are part of the fabric of New Jersey,” mentioned Mary Grace Whealan, state coordinator for the  Museum on Main Street program.  “As New Jersey hosts both the Super Bowl and the National Special Olympics in 2014, Hometown Teams brings us together to further celebrate the year of New Jersey sports.” Mary Grace, New Jersey project scholar Tom McCabe of Rutgers University-Newark, and Carol Harsh, Director and co-founder of the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street, have worked closely with each of the six host sites, encouraging project partners to collect stories, encourage creativity, and design events and local initiatives that celebrate sports in their communities.

Hometown Teams is part of the Museum on Main Street (MoMS) program, a partnership between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and the New Jersey Council for the Humanities (NJCH). MoMS brings Smithsonian-quality exhibitions to local museums, historical societies, libraries, and community centers around the country and state of New Jersey. Each exhibit celebrates and explores the local heritage within the context of a broad national theme. Recent exhibits to have toured New Jersey have included Key Ingredients: American By Food and New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music.


MoMS invites the public to share their local sports stories through the “Stories from Main Street” website at www.storiesfrommainstreet.org 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. 

Over the course of six years, the exhibition will travel to 180 small towns in 30 states. The full tour itinerary can be viewed online at MuseumOnMainStreet.org.

The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (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 www.sites.si.edu

About the New Jersey Council for the Humanities (NJCH)

The New Jersey Council for the Humanities (NJCH) is an independent, nonprofit state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities whose mission is to develop, support and promote projects that explore and interpret the human experience, foster cross-cultural understanding and engage people in dialogue about matters of individual choice and public responsibility. NJCH is supported by federal, and private funds.