Rock Island, IL: Baseball. Soccer. Hockey. Bowling. Rowing. People around the country are drawn to compete in these sports and more. Still more gather on the sidelines to cheer for their favorite athletes and teams. Nowhere do Americans more closely connect to sports than in their hometowns. The Rock Island Public Library, in cooperation with the Illinois Humanities Council, 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” will be on view Saturday, Sept. 13 to Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014 at the Rock Island Library's Main Branch, 401 19th Street, Rock Island.
Rock Island Library and the surrounding community have been expressly chosen by the Illinois Humanities Council to host “Hometown Teams” as part of the Museum on Main Street program—a national/state/local partnership to bring exhibitions and programs to rural cultural organizations. The exhibition's Illinois tour, encompassing six communities, began March 1 and will continue through December 14. The exhibit's final Illinois stop after Rock Island is with the Friends of Hancock County, Carthage, IL, from Nov. 1 to Dec. 14. A short video about the exhibition can be viewed at http://s.si.edu/1bSRDZd.
“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.
“We are very pleased to be able to bring ‘Hometown Teams’ to our area,” said Lisa Lockheart, Rock Island Library spokesperson. “It allows us the opportunity to explore this fascinating aspect of our own region’s sports history, including the role we played in the very beginnings of national sports franchises. We hope that it will inspire many to become even more involved in the cultural life of our community.”
“Allowing all of our state’s residents to have access to the cultural resources of our nation’s premiere museum is a priority of the Illinois Humanities Council," said Matt Meachum, IHC program coordinator for access. “With this special tour, we are pleased to be working with Rock Island Library to help develop local exhibitions and public programs to compliment the Smithsonian exhibition. We've been fascinated to learn about the important developments in sports history that have happened in the Quad Cities, and it's a privilege to collaborate with the library's staff and volunteers."
To officially open the exhibit on Saturday, Sept. 13, the Rock Island Library will offer a celebration of high school sports, featuring an official tape break with area high school athletes, pep bands, and a hot dog "tailgate" celebration in the library's parking lot off 20th Street. The 11:00 amto 1:00 pm opening celebration also includes an 11:00 am baseball story time in the Main Library Children's Room with Rascal the River Bandit. The opening ceremony is free and open to the public.
Other free events include programs at the Rock Island Main Library on the Rock Island Independents NFL and the Tri-Cities Blackhawks NBA teams, a guided tour of historic stadiums, history presentations on Quad City auto racing, women in baseball, professional baseball, and a panel discussion on advances of women in local sports following the advent of Title IX. In a special program, the library will bring in author Neal Rozendaal to speak on the pioneering role of NFL star Frederick "Duke" Slater. The Clinton, Iowa,resident and University of Iowa graduate played for the Rock Island Independents in 1922, making him the first black lineman of the NFL. Slater enjoyed a stellar career both in football, and in later life as a Chicago judge.
Rock Island Library is also partnering with other cultural organizations during the six-week run of Hometown Teams. Moline Public Library will offer a display and program on the rise of professional golf in the Quad Cities, while Karpeles Manuscript Museum and the Rock Island County Historical Society will offer displays on professional baseball. Evenings at Butterworth, a program of the William Butterworth Memorial Trust, is also dedicating its fall series to Hometown Teams. Programs include women in boxing, the Turners Society physical training movement, and a look at sports in art.
Museum on Main Street 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.
“Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America” is part of Museum on Main Street, a unique collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), state humanities councils across the nation, and local host institutions. To learn more about Museum on Main Street exhibitions, visit www.museumonmainstreet.org.
Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress. Local sponsors include the Illinois Humanities Council, Modern Woodmen of America, Rock Island Public Library Foundation, and Sedona Staffing, along with media sponsorships from WHBF TV/CBS 4, Townsquare Media (ESPN Quad Cities 93.5, The HAWK 104.9, 97X WXLP, and B100 ), Mickle Communications, The Dispatch/Rock Island Argus and the River Cities Reader. In kind support has been received from Bill's Moving and Storage, Victory Enterprises, and Midwest Graphics Management.
SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 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.
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Exhibit Venue: Rock Island Main Library: 401 19th Street, Rock Island, IL 61201, 309-732-READ (7323), www.rockislandlibrary.org. Second- floor exhibit space open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm daily, during all scheduled library programs, and by arrangement with first floor service desk at other times. Exhibits close one-half hour before library closing. General library hours of operation are Monday-Thursday, 9:00 am to 8:00 pm, Friday and Saturday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. The library is closed on Sundays.
About Rock Island Public Library: Founded in 1872, the Rock Island Public Library serves the area through three locations, which include the Rock Island Main, 30/31 and Southwest Branches, community outreach efforts, and online opportunities that provide resources to enhance personal achievement and stimulate the imagination.
About the Illinois Humanities Council: The Illinois Humanities Council is an independent, nonprofit state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, dedicated to fostering a culture in which the humanities are a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities. The IHC creates programs and funds organizations that promote greater understanding of, appreciation for, and involvement in the humanities by all Illinoisans, regardless of their economic resources, cultural background, or geographic location. The IHC is supported by state, federal, and private funds.