10 Mar 2015

Aluminum Bleachers Included in Smithsonian “Hometown Teams” Traveling Exhibit

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fans cheer on aluminum bleachers

Cheering for your favorite team on aluminum bleachers is celebrated by Smithsonian Institution

Sitting on aluminum bleachers and rooting for your local team is a scene played out across America thousands of times a week. The Friday night football game. The Wednesday afternoon volleyball match. The Saturday morning soccer game. It’s all part of Americana.

To honor this tradition, the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service produced an exhibit called “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America” which is making its way through rural towns across the country.

Included in the crates accompanying that exhibit are life-size images of athletes, copies of sports magazines, baseball cards, popular photographs and even a rare Barbie doll wearing a soccer uniform. And to commemorate all those fans and all the joy and pain they endured following their favorite teams, a portion of aluminum bleachers were added as well.

Bob Santelli, curator of the exhibit said “Few aspects of American culture so colorfully and passionately celebrate the American experience as sports.”

Making their trek up those aluminum bleachers every week, fathers, mothers, siblings and friends across the country cheered on their sons, daughters, relatives and classmates for decades. At times they won. At times they lost. There were moments when the games came down to the last second and there were moments when the score was so lopsided even the losers couldn’t wait for the game to end.

Spectators on those bleachers sat through it all. Hundreds of thousands of times. Those memories are part of the American landscape and that is why those aluminum bleachers were included.

Aluminum bleachers add to portrayal of local sports 

The traveling exhibit is provided by the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street which was created to reach out to people in smaller rural areas. Recognizing that those people might not have access to the larger, information-packed museums you see in major cities, the idea behind MoMS was to work with state organizations and local facilities to provide a Smithsonian-type experience.

aluminum bleachers

Aluminum bleachers

You can see the logic behind it. According to MoMS, one out of five people still live in small rural towns. Since then MoMS has served more than 900 communities with a population less than 8,000 people.

The exhibit goes beyond just a set of modules with vintage photographs and informative boards. The museum includes lesson plans to get local kids engaged in researching and thinking about the themes in the exhibit. For example, in one workshop, the children are asked to discuss the traditions that are involved with sports teams and explore how these traditions got started. In another, they ask students to address any controversial issues involving their favorite sports teams and what solutions can be offered to resolve the issues.

There are also ideas for scavenger hunts, reading material and teachers’ guides.

The traveling exhibit on “Hometown Teams” is a brilliant idea. America has a love of sports, whether it’s watching a professional team, following the state university players or playing on a local little league field.

It was also smart to include the role that aluminum bleachers played in all these activities. The millions of spectators who spent endless hours sitting on them can certainly relate to that experience.

To read more about the “Hometown Teams” traveling exhibit click here.



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