"Crossroads: Change in Rural America"
Smithsonian traveling exhibit highlighting changing landscape of rural America in Essex, MA.
The Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street, in cooperation with Mass Humanities presents “Crossroads: Change in Rural America.” The exhibition examining the evolving landscape of Rural America opens at the Essex Historical Society & Shipbuilding Museum (EHSSM) in partnership with Essex Town Hall on September 10th 2022.
EHSSM and the surrounding community has been expressly chosen to host “Crossroads” as part of the Museum on Main Street program- a national/state/local partnership to bring exhibitions and programs to rural cultural organizations. The exhibition will tour six communities in Massachusetts from 9/10/2022 through 6/24/2023.
“Crossroads” explores how rural American communities changed in the 20th century. From sea to shining sea, the vast majority of the United States landscape remains rural with only 3.5% of landmass considered urban. Since 1990, the percentage of Americans living in rural areas has dropped from 60% to 17%. The exhibition looks at that remarkable societal change and how rural Americans responded.
Americans have relied on rural crossroads for generations. These places where people gather to exchange goods, services and culture and to engage in political and community discussions are an important part of our cultural fabric. 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.
“Crossroads’ allows us to reflect on Essex’s history, present and future and we are excited to explore what the future may hold for our community.” Said KD Montgomery Executive Director of EHSSM. “We want to convene conversations about what makes our community unique and have developed local exhibitions and public programs to compliment the Smithsonian exhibition.” Such free events include an Oral History program in cooperation with Salem State University, a look at local Genealogy with EHSSM historian Kurt Wilhelm, an Essex based game of Dungeons and Dragons developed by Manchester Essex Regional High School students, a community conversation about traditional Shipbuilding and many more engaging and relevant events and exhibits run by both EHSSM staff and other local contributors.
Designed for small-town museums, libraries and cultural organizations, “Crossroads” will serve as a community meeting place for conversations about how rural America has changed. With the support and guidance of state humanities councils, these towns will develop complementary exhibits, host public programs and facilitate educational initiatives to raise people’s understanding about their own history, the joys and challenges of living rural, how change has impacted their community, and prompt discussion of goals for the future.
The exhibition is part of Museum on Main Street, a unique collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Services (SITES), state humanities councils across the nation, and local host institutions. To learn more about “Crossroads” and other Museum on Main Street exhibitions, visit www.museumonmainstreet.org.
Support for MoMS has been provided by the U.S. Congress.
SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington D.C., for more than 65 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown where people live, work and play. For exhibition description and tour schedules, visit www.sites.si.edu.