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Friday, April 28, 2017

Newport Library Features Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit: Hometown Teams

The Newport Branch of the Campbell County Public Library system is hosting the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit: Hometown Teams. The exhibit seamlessly combines local and national sports artifacts to show how sports have shaped our society. 

Chantelle Phillips, who serves as the Newport Branch Manager and also the library system's Assistant Director, spoke with Fort Thomas Matters about the exhibit. Phillips worked alongside Adult Programming Coordinator Janet Arno to bring the exhibit to Newport. Phillips also emphasized that the exhibit was truly a group effort on the part of the library system as a whole. Many staff members worked diligently to help with the process of preparing for the exhibit's grand opening, including the library's PR team, facilities staff, and Library Director JC Morgan. Additionally, a legion of loyal library volunteers will be serving as docents for the exhibit.  

The Hometown Teams exhibit has been years in the making for the Newport Library. In 2015, the library's lower level underwent a major renovation that would allow for the branch to offer even more enriching opportunities to the community. “We remodeled the lower level of the Newport Library with the specific intent of bringing in educational, cultural and art-related exhibits from a wide variety of institutions across the country for our community to experience. This exhibit was offered by the Smithsonian through the Kentucky Humanities Council and we thought, with Newport’s rich sport history and culture, it would be the perfect fit for us,” said Phillips. 

With ample space to showcase the exhibit, the Newport Library was ready to bring the Smithsonian to town. Phillips and Arno began curating memorabilia over a year ago for the local history aspects of the exhibit, and also spent time learning from local and national institutions about how to best create the perfect exhibit for Newport. “We met with a staff member from the Smithsonian, the associate director from the Kentucky Humanities Council as well as other libraries, museums, and cultural organizations from Kentucky to discuss the importance of sports and, particularly, the role sports plays in our own communities,” said Phillips. 

Successfully curating and installing the exhibit can be attributed to more than just the library staff. Phillips and Arno called upon Brian Hackett from the Department of History and Geography at Northern Kentucky University, NKU graduate student Chris Harris, Newport Central Catholic's Tessy Krebs, and Newport High School's historian, Roger VonStrohe. “The majority of our work on this exhibit over the past year has been spent discovering and collecting the sports stories and artifacts that are significant to Newport. We know we have really only scratched the surface and that there are so many wonderful stories still to be told,” said Phillips.   

Thanks to the help of those throughout Northern Kentucky, the local sports portions of the exhibit feature everything from local sports legends to the beer leagues and various recreational leagues that once played in the area. “Plus, Newport has had so many athletes play professional ball and many go on to coach at the college level that I feel Newport is really well represented nationally,” said Phillips. 

Since this is Kentucky, it wouldn't be a proper sports exhibit without a horse racing display, right? The exhibit certainly won't let any Derby fans down since thanks to some special Eddie Arcaro memorabilia on loan from the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville.  

Phillips hopes that visitors not only leave the exhibit more informed on how sports help to shape our lives, but also with an enhanced sense of pride for the community. Sports can truly bring communities together and create lasting bonds for participants and fans alike. “I love hearing people tell their personal stories about sports and to hear how all those stories connect us. So many memories revolve around participating in sports or watching your kids play sports or hanging out with friends and watching or playing sports. Parents everywhere who have spent multiple week nights and entire weekends watching their kids play sports have that common bond despite how they might differ in other ways,” said Phillips. 

The Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit: Hometown Teams is free and open to the public from Saturday, April 29 until Saturday, June 3. The Newport Branch of the Campbell County Library System is located at 901 East Sixth Street, Newport, KY. You can tour the exhibit during the following times: 

Sundays: 1 to 5 p.m. (Closed May 28)

Tuesdays: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Wednesdays: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Fridays: 1 to 7 p.m.
Saturdays: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

On Saturday, April 29, the library will be hosting a kick-off event for the exhibit. The kick-off will run from noon until 1pm with free cheese coney's courtesy of Gold Star Chili. The Newport High School Drumline will also be performing for the kick-off celebration. 

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