MURRAY, Ky. — A new interactive museum exhibit about the role sports play in American society will open Oct. 6 at Wrather West Kentucky Museum on Murray State University’s campus.
The exhibit, titled “Hometown Teams,” is a collaborative effort between University Libraries, Kentucky Humanities and the Smithsonian Institute Travel Exhibition Service’s Museum on Main Street program.
“The general motivation behind this partnership was to bring high-quality traveling museum exhibits to rural places like Murray,” said Dr. Jeff McLaughlin, director of special collections and exhibits at Murray State. “You know what you’re getting in terms of quality from the Smithsonian, but this particular exhibit is going to be a blast for sports fans of any age.”
“Hometown Teams” will consist of three main components, including a Smithsonian exhibit, a tribute hall featuring local athletes and a playable art exhibit called “Foul Shot” by Nashville artist Brandon Donahue.
Altogether, McLaughlin describes “Hometown Teams” as a six-week celebration of local sports and fandom that will run through much of the fall semester. In addition to the museum displays, “Hometown Teams” will feature guest speakers, films and community events that share sports-related stories.
“This exhibit and our accompanying programming will appeal to families, students and scholars,” said Ashley Ireland, dean of University Libraries. “Our visitors will leave with a better understanding of the role sports may have in our culture and our sense of community. Murray State and University Libraries are proud to be a part of that and to facilitate that conversation.”
The exhibit’s grand opening and celebration will take place Saturday, Oct. 6, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the University’s quad with fun for the whole family. An opening reception for “Hometown Teams” sponsored by the Murray State Town & Gown Partnership will then take place Monday, Oct. 8, from 6 to 8 p.m. The event’s keynote speaker will be Jeff Bidwell, sports director at WPSD Local 6 in Paducah and author of “Extending the Stay to San Jose,” an oral history of the Racer men’s basketball team’s 2010 March Madness run.
Additional events will take place at the museum throughout the course of the exhibit’s tenure at Murray State. One such event is the Pioneers Panel on Oct. 11 at 6:30 p.m. that will feature founder of Murray State women’s track Margaret Simmons and Murray State’s first African-American athlete Dennis Jackson. Nashville artist and Tennessee State University professor Brandon Donahue will then pay a visit to campus Oct. 13 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., while Murray State psychology professor Dr. Daniel Wann will give a public lecture Oct. 16 at 6 p.m. about “The Psychological Well-being of Local Sport Fans.” A sports memorabilia showcase will be open Oct. 20 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., while Major League Baseball Coach Mark Riggins will visit Oct. 24 at 6:30 p.m. The final event of the semester is a sports trivia fundraiser with more details to come.
Wrather West Kentucky Museum is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. as well as Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. during the exhibit’s run. There is no entry fee.
For more information about “Hometown Teams” and any of its corresponding events, visit facebook.com/