Museum on Main Street

The Museum on Main Street (MoMS) Program is the Smithsonian Institution’s Traveling Exhibition Service. NJCH works closely with the Smithsonian and NJ museums, historical societies and other cultural venues to bring MoMS exhibits to the state. Through highly targeted community programs and creative activities, MoMS exhibitions become a hub for storytelling and local pride. Residents enthusiastically engage with exhibition content, as diverse community members come together to share and celebrate their heritage.

Water: Resource for Life is the newest exhibit from the Smithsonian Museum on Main Street program.  Set to debut in 2016 (and touring NJ in 2017), Water is part of a larger Smithsonian initiative on the importance of this essential resource, and we’re now working to secure funding for an array of educational programs that will allow participating states to expand the focus of the exhibition for communities of all sizes. Potential programs include: a “do-it-yourself” exhibition that can be fabricated by larger museums to broaden and customize the discussion of water, digital education and badging, and linking Smithsonian experts with state and local programming.

What is MoMS?

The Museum on Main Street (MoMS) program is the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service’s key initiative that directly engages small town audiences and brings revitalized attention to underserved rural communities through their own Main Street museums, historical societies and other cultural venues. MoMS develops critical partnerships with state humanities councils to bring Smithsonian traveling exhibitions to small towns. MoMS exhibitions are a powerful catalyst – opening doors to a community’s own history, its culture, its people, and to an enhanced pride of place. To generate grassroots engagement, MoMS works in close collaboration with state humanities councils and more than 900 institutions in rural towns across the nation. For these communities (with an average population of 8,000), the opportunity to host the Smithsonian provides much more than a quality educational experience. Through highly targeted community programs and creative activities, MoMS exhibitions become a hub for storytelling and local pride. Residents enthusiastically engage with exhibition content, as diverse community members come together to share and celebrate their heritage.

The History

It all began in 1991, when thirteen state humanities councils, in coordination with SITES, received a grant from the Smithsonian’s Special Exhibition Fund and conducted a survey of nearly one hundred small, remote cultural institutions. This landmark survey assessed the programmatic and exhibition preferences of rural museums, historical organizations and libraries and provided the basis for state humanities councils’ ongoing collaboration with SITES that eventually developed into Museum on Main Street. The survey verified that residents of America’s small towns experience severe geographic, economic and cultural isolation. These small but vibrant facilities located in rural areas often serve as community centers, well positioned to offer exciting public programs, yet are restricted from doing so by limited budgets and insufficient staff. These small museums are routinely excluded from traveling exhibition programs because they cannot accommodate large structural components, complex installations, and expensive shipping and participation fees. Relying on the results of the survey of small museums, Smithsonian designers developed a new exhibit format that earned a Presidential Design Award for Excellence not only because it delivers high-quality content in a compact package, but also because it is tailored so precisely to the specific needs of resource-poor museums.

What is MoMS’ exhibition focus?

Museum on Main Street circulates Smithsonian exhibitions focusing on broad topics of American history and culture, like roots music, foodways, work and migration. Exhibitions are organized around elements of our shared American experience, helping host organizations explore cultural attributes that bind us as a nation. All exhibitions are freestanding, contain original objects, and travel in easy-to-handle wheeled crates. State humanities councils help local organizers to prepare exhibit-related events with scholarly consultations and preparatory workshops. Small town participants add hard work, ambition, and a sense of fun. As a result, rural museums benefit from high visibility, increased attendance, professional museum training, and capital improvements to their facilities. Museum on Main Street exhibitions have traveled to nearly 700 towns with populations of 500 to 20,000 across the country. They have inspired heightened awareness of local history. Exciting collaborations begin between museums, educational organizations, and local businesses. Entire communities get involved unleashing a tidal wave of public programs and educational activities. The success of Museum on Main Street is evidenced not only in the broad scope of public programs in host communities, but in how the project served as a catalyst in fostering lasting institutional advancements and ambitious capital improvements. With ongoing federal support, Museum on Main Street will continue to showcase local heritage in untold numbers of under-served communities across the country.

Hometown Teams postcard
Hometown Teams New Jersey Press Release (January 27, 2014)


Teacher Resources::

Lesson Plans

Get the scoop on all the ways you can teach American history with these specific lessons from the Library of Congress, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and more.

February 8-9, 2014:  A two-day workshop related to Sports in Our Communities.  This Smithsonian-inspired two-day workshop helped teachers of all levels and disciplines bring sports into the classroom.  Studying how sports have shaped America offers a fertile ground for students to explore historical themes, write creatively, make art, and problem solve. The workshop included lectures on national and local sports history, a tour of the Hometown Teams exhibit, a guest panel discussion, interaction with the host institutions of the traveling exhibit, and planning sessions on how to bring sports into lesson plans. Join the Hometown Team to learn more about what sports mean to us, as individuals and as a community, and how they shape who we are and how we live our lives.



  • February 9th through March 9th – Sports Art Drawing Class with Jerry Winick Children ages 7 – 12 will have the opportunity to learn how to draw their favorite sports moments and athletes with Jerry on Sunday afternoons from 1 – 2:30 PM
  • February 19th – Film showing with Ralph Branca Viewing of the film “Branca’s Pitch” and have a Q&A session with Ralph Branca himself afterwards
  • March 1st – Write-on Sports workshop with Byron Yake Workshop for 7th grade students that teaches them the art of sports writing and beyond with acclaimed sports writer Byron Yake Session will run from 9 – 3 PM
  • March 4th – Women in Broadcasting The film “Let Them Wear Towels” will be shown; Q&A with producer Annie Sundberg following.  The film focuses on the experiences of women sports reporters
  •  TBD (most likely end of February) – Photography workshop Seasoned Yankees photographer Lou Rocco will teach a photography workshop to high school students focused on sports photography.  This workshop will teach students lighting techniques and aesthetic aspects to taking a good sports photograph


Smithsonian Institution Press Release - 12/05/13 Bridgeton making plans for Smithsonian Institution’s Hometown Teams visiting exhibit  – 11/12/13 Smithsonian sports exhibit coming to Atlantic City, Bridgeton in 2014 – 12/25/13 Smithsonian Exhibit Invites Visitors to Root, Root, Root for the Hometown Team – 12/08/13 Smithsonian sports exhibit opens in Atlantic City - 3/23/14 Atlantic City Free Public Library hosts “Hometown Teams” exhibit - 3/21/14

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