Ouachita to host Smithsonian “Hometown Teams” exhibit Oct. 28-Dec. 9

Ouachita Baptist University will host the national traveling exhibition “Hometown Teams,” presented by the Smithsonian Institution, from Oct. 28-Dec. 9. The exhibit, which will be located in Hammons Gallery in Mabee Fine Arts Center, is free and open to the public.

“It is an honor to be chosen to host an exhibit from the Smithsonian, one of our nation’s best known and most respected museums,” said Dr. Wendy Richter, Ouachita professor and archivist. “We hope that the exhibit will increase interest in and understanding of the significance of local sports to the people of southwest Arkansas.”

Hometown Teams” explores how sports impacts American society by shaping lives and uniting communities. According to the Smithsonian, the exhibit captures the stories that unfold on the neighborhood fields and courts, 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.

“It’s a captivating exhibit that should appeal to all ages. It explores how sports can impact a whole community,” said Kristi Smith, Ouachita assistant professor and librarian. “It is celebrating not only the athletes, but also the coaches, supporting organizations and the fans.”

Ouachita is one of six sites in Arkansas selected to host the exhibit and the only one in southwest Arkansas. Ouachita applied to the Arkansas Humanities Council as a host site and was selected in a competitive process.

Each host site will work closely with the Arkansas Humanities Council, schools, community organizations and scholars to offer a unique opportunity to reflect on the history and culture of sports in America. Towns will host humanities programs, develop complementary exhibits and facilitate educational initiatives about sports.

A Ouachita public history class on “Museum Studies” worked closely with high schools in the area to conduct research for the exhibit. Students were able to use primary source materials and gather content about each school’s athletic programs through the Youth Access Grant. The research will become a part of the Ouachita exhibit. This “Traditions of Excellence” section will depict local college and high school sporting activities including Battle of the Ravine, high school rivalries, marching bands and star athletes.

“Hometown Teams” has been made possible at Ouachita by the Arkansas Humanities Council. It 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.

Regular gallery hours at Ouachita are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays. “Hometown Teams” also will be open until 8 p.m. each Thursday, and from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11, the day of Ouachita’s Battle of the Ravine rivalry football game. For more information on the “Hometown Teams” exhibit contact Kristi Smith at smithk@obu.edu or (870) 245-5119.

By Sarah Davis

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