The West Virginia Humanities Council is sponsoring a state tour of the new Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit Crossroads: “Change in Rural America,” beginning August 2021. The exhibit examines the present-day turning point at which many rural American towns find themselves.
Since the early 1900s, rural America has experienced significant changes in demographics, educational opportunities, access to services, and economic viability. Today, the population of the nation’s rural areas is less than half of what it was in 1900, yet America’s small towns continue to creatively focus on new opportunities for growth and development. Economic innovation, including investment in cultural and creative economies, has helped many communities create their own renaissance.
Beginning this Wednesday, the Humanities Council is inviting applications from museums, historical societies, historic sites, and cultural and community organizations interested in hosting Crossroads and providing public programs about their local rural culture. There is no charge for selected venues to participate in the tour, and program funds will be provided to each site by the Humanities Council.
The deadline for applications is Aug. 15, 2020. Selected sites will be announced at the end of August. The exhibit is available only through the West Virginia Humanities Council.
Six sites will be selected to participate in the West Virginia tour of the exhibit. Each site will have the exhibit on display for six weeks. In addition to program funds, technical assistance and resources to support planning and promotion will be provided to each community by the Humanities Council. With funding provided by the Humanities Council, host communities will develop companion displays and supplemental programs that focus on their rural lifestyles past and present.
Crossroads will present visitors with perspectives on paths forward for their rural areas; small town America in books, songs, poetry, and art; connection to the land, and the history of land use; Civil Rights in rural areas; the history of infrastructure, such as the Rural Electrification Administration born during the Great Depression; and ways to reimagine the challenges facing rural communities now.
The exhibit is organized in six sections and requires approximately 800 square feet of floor space (1000 square feet is recommended) and 8.5 feet of ceiling height. Electricity is needed for video monitors and a touchscreen computer but audio components are battery powered. Only indoor venues will be considered.
Interested venues and organizations are invited to contact Humanities Council Program Officer Kyle Warmack at 304-346-8500 or warmack@ wvhumanities.org, or visit www.wvhumanities.org/ programs/crossroads to download an application. Warmack will also present a free webinar in partnership with the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia at 1 p.m. on Wednesday with more information on the exhibit and how hosting can benefit your community. Visit www.pawv.org/webinars.hmtl to register. Smithsonian personnel will also be in attendance to answer questions.
The Crossroads tour is made possible through the Museum on Main Street (MoMS) program, which is an alliance of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, the Federation of State Humanities Councils, state humanities councils across the country, and cultural organizations in small, rural communities.