- Associated Press - Monday, June 1, 2015

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. (AP) - The Heritage Museum and Cultural Center in St. Joseph is ready to step up to the plate and host its first Smithsonian Institution exhibit, “Hometown Teams,” exploring the role of sports in the nation, arriving in April 2016.

The museum is one of only five in Michigan selected for the exhibit, and will be the first to present it, according to The Herald-Palladium ( https://bit.ly/1BemAFE ).

Director Christine Arseneau said “Hometown Teams” will be a “perfect fit” with its next exhibit, “Work and Play: Sports in Southwest Michigan,” opening June 14.

Planning for “Work and Play” has been going on for about two years, and the museum jumped at the chance to make a pitch to host “Hometown Teams,” Arseneau said.

The Smithsonian exhibit will be at the Heritage Museum for six weeks, and admission will be free.

“Hometown Teams” is made possible through the Museum on Main Street program, which targets towns with a population under 20,000. It works with support from the Michigan Humanities Council.

Arseneau said the selection committee was impressed with the Heritage Center’s relationship with tourism and cultural institutions that they believed would draw more visitors.

A variety of public programs are being planned to coincide with the “Hometown Teams” exhibit. The Heritage Museum will collaborate with several area organizations to extend the exhibit’s reach. Tours for school groups will also be available.

“Hometown Teams” follows a similar timeline to “Work and Play,” but on a national level, Arseneau said. It portrays the history of sports from its early “rough and dirty” reputation to its burgeoning popularity after the Civil War.

“This hometown connection is especially important for children as it creates pride in the community,” Arseneau said.

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Information from: The Herald-Palladium, https://www.heraldpalladium.com

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