Smithsonian’s Hometown Teams exhibit coming August 2018

Muhlenberg County Public Libraries is asking for assistance from around the region with an upcoming exhibit.

The library is gathering memorabilia to display as part of a larger sports-themed exhibit coming in late August.

Muhlenberg will host the Smithsonian Institution-created Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America exhibit August 25 through September 29, 2018 at the library’s Thistle Cottage branch. Hometown Teams is one of the Smithsonian’s traveling “Museum on Main Street” exhibits provided to Kentucky’s small museums and libraries through a partnership with Kentucky Humanities. The exhibit focuses on the impact that sports can have on communities at every level, from youth sports and school teams up to beloved professional squads.

The exhibit also includes a local component. Each host site is asked to prepare a display of local sports memorabilia to be included with the Smithsonian exhibit.

That’s why the library is reaching out to the community. They are seeking loans or donations of sports-related materials from Muhlenberg County and the surrounding region.

“We are still gathering items,” exhibit coordinator Amie Waltrip said. “We already have some items in our own collection, but we know there are plenty of other people who have great pieces that should be featured.”

“We welcome loans and donations from people who want to be involved.”

Waltrip said memorabilia to be displayed could include jerseys, trophies, photos or anything else related to school or community sports programs. The library is searching for materials from Muhlenberg County as well as the rest of the region.

Anyone with items they think may be appropriate for the exhibit should contact the library.

Waltrip said that, while the bulk of the exhibit will focus on Muhlenberg County itself, the library is hoping to have at least one or two pieces of memorabilia from each of the counties surrounding Muhlenberg County. “Of course we want to include plenty of memorabilia from our own county, but we would like to have a regional section to the exhibit, too, where all of our neighbors can be honored,” Waltrip said.

“This exhibit has much wider appeal than just our own county.”

Library director Janet Harris pointed out that even local sports usually reach beyond a single county’s borders. She said, “Our schools play against each other and sometimes even with each other on regional teams. Some of us have friends and family in neighboring counties.”

“Sometimes even our rivalries provide great memories that are a part of our story … those things need to be included in an exhibit like this,” Harris said.

Muhlenberg County is one of only a few counties in the western part of the state to receive the Hometown Teams exhibit. The exhibit visited Todd County last fall and will travel to Murray after it leaves Muhlenberg County in late September.

Waltrip and Harris said they are honored to be selected as one of the recipients of the exhibit. “We are so excited to host an exhibit like this,” Waltrip said.

Harris added, “The fact that it’s a Smithsonian exhibit says a lot. You know it’s a really high-quality exhibit that will appeal to a lot of people when it’s coming from such a well-known, respected organization.”

The Hometown Teams exhibit at Thistle Cottage opens on August 25. The exhibit opening will be celebrated with a ribbon cutting and open house at Thistle Cottage from 2 to 4 p.m., followed by Muhlenberg County’s annual Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony and banquet at Second Baptist Church at 5 p.m.

The library is also planning several sports-related programs in August and September in conjunction with the exhibit.

For more information about the exhibit or related programming, or to ask about loaning items to Thistle Cottage to be included in the exhibit, contact Muhlenberg County Public Libraries at 270-338-4760.

Hometown Teams has been made possible at Muhlenberg County Public Libraries by Kentucky Humanities.

Hometown Teams is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and state Humanities Councils nationwide. Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress.