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Join the Oklahoma City Thunder and Mayor Mick Cornett at the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit kick-off event at Ralph Ellison Library March 5

Join the Oklahoma City Thunder and Mayor Mick Cornett at the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit kick-off event at Ralph Ellison Library March 5

Oklahoma City, OK -- On Thursday, March 5, 2015, the Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit Hometown Teams will open at the Ralph Ellison Library in Oklahoma City at 2000 NE 23rd St. The exhibit is presented by the Oklahoma Humanities Council as part of the Smithsonian Institution's Museum on Main Street program.

A special kick-off event will be held at the Ralph Ellison Library at 2:00 pm on March 5. Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett will speak at the exhibit opening, along with the Smithsonian Institution's Museum on Main Street Project Director Robbie Davis and Oklahoma Humanities Council Executive Director Ann Thompson. Representatives from the Oklahoma City Thunder will also be in attendance.

The kickoff event and the Hometown Teams exhibit are free and open to all ages. The exhibit features videos, photos, interactive materials, and artifacts illustrating how sports are more than just games -- they shape our lives, unite us, and celebrate who we are as Americans. Sections of the exhibit focus on the interactions of sports with commerce and culture, iconic arenas, fans' and athletes' personal experiences, heated national and local sports rivalries, new "alternative" sports, and ways sports have mirrored society through struggles for equality for women and minorities.

The Hometown Teams exhibit represents the essential qualities of sports -- competition, fair play, and the zeal to win -- and shows how they embody the American spirit. Our hometown teams represent our communities, instill pride in them, and create bonds that are passed from one generation to the next. As basketball legend Bob Cousy states, "Sports gives your life structure, discipline, and a genuine, sincere, pure fulfillment that few other areas of endeavor provide."

Museum on Main Street programs sponsored by the Oklahoma Humanities Council bring Smithsonian Institution exhibits to communities around the state. The Hometown Teams exhibit will run at the Ralph Ellison Library through April 17, 2015, after which it will be displayed in Miami, Muskogee, Ponca City, Weatherford, and Guymon through December 2015. The exhibit's host cities will also add complementary programming and exhibits highlighting their own hometowns' unique sports histories. An exhibit on Oklahoma sports, created by the Oklahoma Historical Society, will also tour with the national exhibit.

Bob Santelli, the Smithsonian's curator of the Hometown Teams exhibit, says, "Few aspects of American culture so colorfully and passionately celebrate the American experience as sports. The Hometown Teams exhibit shows how sports are an indelible part of our national and local culture and communities. The exhibit portrays how sports have helped shape our national and local character and how Americans' love of sports begins in our hometowns--on the sandlot, at the local ball field, and even in the street."

For more information about the Hometown Teams exhibit or the Museum on Main Street program, please contact Caroline Lowery, Oklahoma Humanities Council Program Officer, at caroline@okhumanities.org or at (405) 235-0280.