Our Smithsonian Journey

April 22, 2016 6:03 pm Published by

For months we have been shouting from the rooftops that the Smithsonian is coming to St. Joseph.  Now – finally! – we are proud to announce that the Smithsonian has finally arrived!

The Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program brings themed traveling exhibits to museums, community centers, and libraries all across the country in partnership with states’ humanities councils.  We are so grateful to the Michigan Humanities Council for their support in helping us bring the sports-themed exhibit, Hometown Teams, to the Twin Cities!

We wanted to share some pictures with you of our Smithsonian Journey! The pictures below are all from the week of April 11-15, which was our week of installation.  Please click on the photos twice to enlarge.

After months of applications and planning, the exhibit arrived early on Monday morning. On the left, our curator Tracy, and Scott and Ron – friends of the museum from Vail Rubber – are all smiles on arrival day. Scott and Ron were gracious enough to help us unload the bulky crates – many thanks to them! On the right, you can see the bleacher assembly, now the focal point of the exhibit, waiting to be unloaded from the back of the truck.

There were a whopping twenty-one crates in all containing the exhibit. The first order of business was to get them all stored in the our exhibit gallery.  In the picture on the right, Jennifer and Tracy use large paper cut-outs in the shape and size of the exhibit component footprints to determine the layout of the many pieces.

On Wednesday morning, we were joined by a great team for a two-day exhibit installation workshop. This team included Terri Cobb from the Smithsonian’s team who instructed us on how to put the exhibit together; James Nelson from the Michigan Humanities Council; Dr. Thomas Henthorn (UM-Flint), the state scholar for Hometown Teams in Michigan; and the staff of each of the four institutions who will receive the exhibit after us.  By helping us install Hometown Teams at the Heritage Museum, these teams got enough practice so that they can put it up at their own institutions later this year.

In the photos below, our team adjusts the paper footprint layout and starts unpacking crates, assembling components, and moving parts of the exhibit into place.

On Thursday, Terri (in blue in the photograph on the left) gave the whole team a tour of the completed exhibit, making sure that we knew how to turn on and operate all pieces, and went over the historic themes of each panel.  Then, as a group, we met downstairs to share ideas about programming and marketing that each group was planning for their time with the exhibit.  There are some amazing programs going on this year in Lapeer, Pickford, Fremont, and Morenci, Michigan!  After lunch, Claire Herhold from our own museum led a short workshop on how to train volunteers docents and tour guides who might work in the exhibit (center photograph).  On the right, you can see our entire, amazing team!

After so much training, we were ready to open up Hometown Teams to the public!  Our opening reception on Friday, April 15 featured sports-themed refreshments, remarks from Tracy and Dr. Henthorn, and a thrilling performance by the Benton Harbor Tigers Marching Band Drum Line!  It was a great way to kick-off this wonderful exhibit’s stay in the Twin Cities.


Hometown Teams, a Smithsonian Museum on Main Street exhibition, will be on display at the Heritage Museum in St. Joseph, MI until June 5, 2016.  Admission is free, Tuesday-Saturday, 10 am – 4 pm.  This exhibit was made possible by the Michigan Humanities Council.

For more information, please call (269) 983-1191 or e-mail info@theheritagemcc.org.