Making History (Y)Our Own: Augmentation of the Smithsonian Exhibition Hometown Teams through Digital Means
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The Smithsonian exhibition Hometown Teams is about to complete its six-year tour at the end of 2018. A part of the Museum on Main Street traveling exhibitions program, this presentation is designed to share the Smithsonian s resources with rural America. The exhibitions in this series are designed to be a locus for additional programming relevant to the host community. The exhibition in question, Hometown Teams explores the role of sports in the United States, and how they have shaped the lives of Americans and American culture as a whole. The exhibition features equipment, playing grounds, and rules from sports played all across the United States. This information is presented primarily via text, with complementary videos, audio components, and interactive games. However, these materials tell the story of sports in America as a whole, rather than that of our particular community, a community which has been consistently underrepresented by the national narrative. In the case of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), we chose to augment our exhibition with digital components. Through these digital initiatives, we were able to engage with the campus community and beyond, exploring perspectives and histories present in the Rio Grande Valley. Ultimately, we aimed to address gaps in the exhibition with our own community stories, strengthening our patrons interactions with this history by making it their own. For our community, this included exploring as many voices as possible and capturing them through visual, audio, and interactive formats. Another important consideration for our community is the presentation of this information in Spanish, the primary language of many of our patrons. The importance of making these exhibitions one s own cannot be emphasized enough. In an age in which individuals are drowned out by the cacophony of globalization; underrepresentation of small communities, like that in the Rio Grande Valley, persists. Thus, as the keepers of these histories and liaisons to the communities we serve, it is more important than ever that we express the identities of our communities. Our unique populace can reaffirm their identity through these digital initiatives, which serve as an instrument to their voices and distinct culture. The purpose of this presentation will be to offer UTRGV s digital accessories to this national exhibition as a case study for different ways in which a community transform a national topic or opportunity to reflect their own community. I will speak about the different processes, considerations, and how we ultimately chose our own digital supplementary materials, as well as our assessment of these digital initiatives vis-�-vis the exhibition. Furthermore, I will briefly discuss our plans to assess these digital impacts, as to better serve the community in the future.