Arts Center to host traveling exhibit

PARKERSBURG – The Parkersburg Art Center will be the first stop next year for a traveling Smithsonian Institution exhibit.

The Hometown Teams exhibit is tentatively scheduled for display Feb. 1-March 15 at the Parkersburg Art Center, the first of six West Virginia sites in 2014. The exhibit examines the role of sports in American culture, past and present.

“Sports are a big part of what we do and who we are. Our love of sports begins in our hometowns,” Robbie Davis, project director with the Smithsonian Institution, said in a press release. “Hometown sports can be more than just games, they can become cultural touchstones with the ability to unite us and shape our values..”

Abby Hayhurst, director of the Parkersburg Art Center, said West Virginia was one of only six states chosen to host the exhibit, which makes Parkersburg the first location nationally to have the display.

“It is going to be great,” she said. “We had a Smithsonian exhibit about six years ago and it was very well attended. “We are anticipating, since this one is sports, it is going to be as good if not better in terms of attendance.”

Hayhurst said the display is currently being constructed by the Smithsonian.

“Typically what they send you is free standing displays. Those take up about 850 square feet of exhibit space,” she said. “You are then responsible for recruiting a committee, and that committee is then responsible for finding corollary exhibit material.”

Hayhurst said the center is in the process of gathering a steering committee and will soon begin to solicit for local displays. Hayhurst said local sports figures like baseball player Nick Swisher and professional golfer Brittany Lincicome likely will be centerpieces for the local displays.

The West Virginia Humanities Council will provide funding to the sites to develop companion displays and supplemental programs that focus on their hometown teams. Displays might include uniforms, game programs, tickets, equipment, trophies, schedules and records, and team photographs, as well as lectures, films or discussions that examine the local sports tradition. Technical assistance is provided to the display sites by Humanities Council and Smithsonian staff.