Crossroads: Change in Rural America

Wyoming Tour Opening in 2021!

Crossroads logo

In 1900, about 40% of Americans lived in rural areas, by 2010, less than 18% of the U.S. population lived in rural areas. In just over a century, massive economic and social changes led to massive growth of America's urban areas. Yet, less than 10% of the U.S. landmass is considered urban.

Many Americans assume that rural communities are endangered and hanging on by a thread—suffering from out migration, ailing schools, and overused land. But that perception is far from true in many areas. Many rural Americans work hard to sustain their communities. Why should revitalizing the rural places left behind matter to those who remain, those who left, and those who will come in the future? All Americans benefit from rural America's successes. We can learn great things from listening to those stories. There is much more to the story of rural America!

Crossroads: Change in Rural America offers small towns a chance to look at their own paths to highlight the changes that affected their fortunes over the past century. The exhibition will prompt discussions about what happened when America’s rural population became a minority of the country’s population and the ripple effects that occurred. Despite the massive economic and demographic impacts brought on by these changes, America’s small towns continue to creatively focus on new opportunities for growth and development. Economic innovation and a focus on the cultural facets that make small towns unique, comfortable, and desirable have helped many communities create their own renaissance. The future is bright for much of rural America as small towns embrace the notion that their citizens and their cultural uniqueness are important assets.

Crossroads: Change in Rural America is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and Wyoming Humanities.

Workers are the backbone of American society. Known for their strong work ethic, Americans invest themselves physically, emotionally, and intellectually in their work.

American jobs are as diverse as the American workforce. The opportunity provided by work is central to the American dream and has attracted people to better lives in America. With strength, ingenuity, creativity, thoughtfulness, and heroics, American workers keep our economy and our society up and running.

The Smithsonian Traveling exhibition The Way We Worked, adapted from an original exhibition developed by the National Archives, explores how work became such a central element in American culture by tracing the many changes that affected the workforce and work environments over the past 150 years.  The exhibition draws from the Archives’ rich collections to tell this compelling story.

Traveling Smithsonian Exhibits

Museum on Main Street is a program of the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Service.  This collaborative partnership between the Smithsonian, state humanities organizations, and local hosts and their community partners brings world class exhibitions to small and rural communities.  When MoMS exhibits come to Wyoming communities, doors are opened to community history and culture, developing and strengthening local partnerships.  The opportunity to host the Smithsonian provides more than a quality educational experience. Through specially designed supporting programs and creative activities, MoMS exhibits become a hub for shared storytelling and revealing local pride. Focused on broad topics impacting American history and culture like barn architecture, fences, food ways, work, migration and water, MoMS exhibitions are organized around elements of our shared American experience, helping host organizations explore cultural attributes that bind us as a nation. The freestanding exhibitions containing original objects travel in easy-to-handle wheeled crates. Wyoming Humanities helps local organizers to prepare exhibit-related events with scholarly consultations, planning sessions, installation workshops and program support.

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Bring An Exhibit to your Community

Opportunities for hosting MoMS exhibits are dependent on exhibit and funding availability. Wyoming Humanities supports Museum on Main Street exhibits in five to six communities per exhibition, depending on exhibition agreement. Organizations selected by Wyoming Humanities to host a MoMS exhibit will:

Staff Representative

Send two staff or representatives to an initial planning meeting & installation workshop with all host organization representatives (Wyoming Humanities pays mileage and per diem)

Keep Records

Will keep track of time and funds invested for reporting purposes

Reporting

Will report on the impact of the exhibit tour on their community

Community Partners

Will work collaboratively with partners within their communities to promote and showcase the MoMS traveling exhibit, the local exhibit, and complementary programming

Open to Public

Hosting organizations are required to make the exhibit available to the public for free throughout the time the exhibit is on display.

Attend Workshop

Will send two staff or representatives to installation workshop with all host organization representatives (Wyoming Humanities pays mileage and per diem)

Organizations interested in learning about future MoMS exhibit tour opportunities should contact Sheila Bricher-Wade at sheila@thinkwy.org.  We’ll publish information about future exhibit opportunities and send invitations for host applications when the next exhibition is booked. Hosting organizations receive some additional program support funding, expenses related to staff participation in workshops, and Wyoming Humanities pays for moving the exhibit between communities.

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