Football. Soccer. Cycling. Volleyball. Bowling. Softball. People around the country are drawn to play and 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 passionately connect to sports than in their hometowns. The Salem Museum, in cooperation with Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge, will celebrate this connection as it hosts “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America,” a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program.
“Hometown Teams” captures 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.
The Salem Museum has been expressly chosen by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service to host “Hometown Teams” as part of the Museum on Main Street program—a national/ state/ local partnership to bring exhibitions and programs to small-town cultural organizations.
“We are very pleased to be able to bring ‘Hometown Teams’ to Virginia’s Blue Ridge,” said Fran Ferguson, executive director of the Salem Museum. “It gives us a chance to explore our region’s sports history, and we hope that it will inspire people to come out and enjoy the full range of sports, sporting events and outdoor adventure opportunities that are available in our area.”
On the day “Hometown Teams” opens, the Salem Museum will also debut its Salem Champions Celebration Gallery. The new, permanent exhibition will include team and individual champions in many fields including athletics, academics, the arts, and civic and professional life.
“Salem prioritizes education, supports quality of life amenities like parks and recreation, and maintains sports complexes where the nation’s top athletes come to play,” said Ferguson. “As a result, a remarkable number of youth and adults have been recognized as Champions in a variety of fields. Their stories exemplify perseverance, teamwork, and community spirit—these are inspiring stories for current and future generations.” The Powell Charitable Foundation is the gallery’s lead contributor.
“The City of Salem, known as ‘Virginia's Championship City,’ has hosted over 80 NCAA Championships including football, softball, basketball, soccer, lacrosse and volleyball,” said Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge president, Landon Howard. “Here in Virginia’s Blue Ridge, we have a national reputation for our success in hosting sporting events. This region is passionate about every kind of sport.”
“Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America” is part of Museum on Main Street, a unique collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, state humanities councils across the nation, and local host institutions. To learn more about “Hometown Teams” and other Museum on Main Street exhibitions, visit www.museumonmainstreet.org.
Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress. The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 60 years. The service 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 Salem Museum
The Salem Museum & Historical Society is an independent, nonprofit organization preserving and celebrating the history of Salem, Virginia, which was founded in 1802. The Salem Museum is located between Longwood Park and Salem’s Pickleball courts in the historic 1845 Williams-Brown House at 801 East Main Street, Salem, VA 24153. Open Tuesday–Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm. Museum admission is free, but donations are appreciated. The Museum offers free parking. 540-389-6760. salemmuseum.org