After being closed for a couple of months for renovation, the Fredericksburg Area Museum is about to open its new season on Sunday with new exhibits, including “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America.”
The Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit explores the many roles sports play in American society.
Sara Poore, the president and CEO of the Fredericksburg Museum Council, said hometown sports are more than just games—they create communities.
“They shape our lives. They unite us. They bring us together as Americans,” she said. “Everyone, whether you’re on the court playing professionally, whether you’re doing it for fun, competition, health, whatever the reason, we all have some sort of sport in our lives.”
Poore said getting the Hometown Teams exhibit, which is part of Museum on Main Street—a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and the Virginia Foundation of the Humanities—is a big deal for FAM.
The museum applied to get the traveling exhibit a couple years ago and the Museum on Main Street program finally came through.
“The goal of this Main Street program is to get traveling exhibits into smaller museums,” Poore said. “You’re still getting the Smithsonian name, but it’s a way to get exhibits out to the museums that can’t afford the great big Smithsonian traveling exhibits.
“It’s a tremendous resource for small museums. We do really good, quality exhibits ourselves, but it’s really fun to have a traveling exhibit, that if you don’t want to go up to D.C., you can see it here,” Poore added.
The exhibit opens March 1 and runs through April 30.
Poore said the exhibit, featuring photographs and displays, will touch on the big three sports—baseball, football and basketball—but it will also feature other sports popular in the United States.
“It’s broken into sections that focus on hometown sports,” she said. “There’s soccer, hockey, snowboarding, curling, tennis, wrestling, skateboarding, surfing, sailing, rodeo. It’s all highlighted.”
One of the installations, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” features a set of bleachers with seat cushions. The cushions have trivia questions printed on top with answers on the bottom.
One question asks how the Cracker Jack snack became associated with baseball. Poore said people should come to the exhibit to get the answer.
Lockers in a locker room contain Gatorade, power bars, jerseys and playbooks, along with a trophy case. Magazines in the exhibit include Golf Digest, Field and Stream, Runner’s World and climbing magazines, Poore said.
There is even a pair of Air Jordan basketball shoes.
“There’s a lot of stuff in there,” Poore said of the exhibit sponsored by Germanna Community College and the Fredericksburg Nationals.
The exhibit will also have an interactive aspect, with old baseballs, baseball mitts, helmets and cleats to compare to today’s equipment.
“You can touch and feel those,” Poore said. “It’s great for kids and families.”
Also opening this Sunday, in The People’s Gallery, will be “What Coker Collects,” sponsored by Dr. John Coker, a well-known, retired local orthodontist and eclectic collector. The collection includes everything from china dolls and magnets to nutcrackers and T-shirts.
Coker’s collection also includes an Olympic torch.
“We’re carrying his story up into Hometown Teams because years ago, when the Olympic Torch came through Fredericksburg, he ran with the torch through town. We’ve got the torch and the picture of him carrying it. It’s perfect.”
Poore said the mission of the museum is to “collect, preserve, interpret, the history of our region and to link past with present.”
“Everything we do is to look forward, so we’re not only a history museum. This exhibit is not a history exhibit,” she said. “We look at current affairs and how they link to the past and how that creates a better community going forward.”