Museum on Main Street

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Museum on Main Street?

Museum on Main Street is a one-of-a-kind cultural program that engages small-town audiences and brings revitalized attention to underserved rural communities through their own Main Street museums, historical societies, and other cultural venues. The program is a partnership of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), the Federation of State Humanities Councils, and state humanities councils nationwide. Museum on Main Street combines the prestige of national Smithsonian exhibitions, the program expertise of state humanities councils, and the knowledge and hard work of local volunteers to bring communities together around their histories and for their futures. Museum on Main Street is funded by the United States Congress.

What are the exhibitions about?

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.

Why is Museum on Main Street needed?

One-fifth of all Americans live in rural areas, and about 43 percent of all U.S. museums are located in small, rural towns. Though rural museums demonstrate uncanny enthusiasm for local heritage, they have the fewest opportunities for funding or technical assistance of any segment in the museum field. Museum on Main Street provides these institutions with access to otherwise scarce resources and assists them in making lasting improvements that advance their institution’s ambitions.

How do communities benefit from the Museum on Main Street program?

Host communities and their cultural venues benefit from high visibility, increased attendance, professional museum training, and capital improvements to their facilities. In addition, the Museum on Main Street program can be a catalyst for economic development and the forging of new partnerships.

Previous Tours

Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America

Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America was a great success! Thanks to all those who attended the programs, and to the organizers, sponsors, and host communities who brought it all together.

Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America traveled across Georgia from March 2016 through October 2017 hosted by twelve communities: Swainsboro, Fort Oglethorpe, Jonesboro, Nashville, Kingsland, Carrollton, Jefferson, Fort Valley, Moultrie, Forsyth, Cartersville, and Monroe.

This interactive exhibition captured the stories that unfold in neighborhood backyards, playgrounds, and schoolyards. Since the founding of our nation, sports have helped to shape the national character, personifying the American experience. Whether it is professional sports or the games played on an amateur level, nowhere do Americans more intimately connect to sports than in their hometowns.

Hometown sports teams not only represent the game but also help to establish roots, shape lives, and unite communities. In that sense, hometown teams exemplify the fair play and spirit of winning that personifies the American character.

The exhibition highlighted the history, culture, and people behind our American passion for sports in our hometowns.

New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music

New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music is a Smithsonian traveling exhibition that explores the early traditions of American music, including sacred, country, blues, and dance. The exhibition also examines the use of roots music in protest and periods of folk music revival.

New Harmonies toured Georgia from April 2012 through November 2013, hosted by twelve communities: Calhoun, Madison, Darien, Perry, Moultrie, Toccoa, Bremen, Thomson, Nashville, Americus, Waycross, and LaGrange.

New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music was a collaboration between Georgia Humanities and Museum on Main Street, an initiative of the Smithsonian Institution’s Traveling Exhibition Service. Partners for the Georgia tour of New Harmonies included: the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Center for Public History at the University of West Georgia, Georgia Council for the Arts, and Georgia Department of Economic Development.

New Harmonies in Georgia was led by Honorary Chair Sandra Deal, First Lady of Georgia, and Chair Rose Lane Leavell.

Key Ingredients: America by Food

Key Ingredients: America by Food is a Smithsonian traveling exhibition that explores the connections between Americans and the foods they eat. The exhibition looks at the historical, regional, and social traditions that come together in our everyday meals and celebrations.

Key Ingredients toured Georgia from June 2008 through February 2010, hosted by twelve communities: Vienna, LaFayette, Ellijay, Hapeville, Thomson, Dahlonega, Kingsland, Tifton, Vidalia, Waynesboro, Indian Springs, and Buchanan.

Key Ingredients was a collaboration between Georgia Humanities and Museum on Main Street, an initiative of the Smithsonian Institution’s Traveling Exhibition Service. Partners for the Georgia tour of Key Ingredients included the Georgia Power Foundation, Georgia Tourism Foundation, Center for Public History at the University of West Georgia, and We the People initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities.