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Our History

Museum on Main Street exhibitions and resources have traveled to more than 1500 towns with populations of 500 to 20,000 across the country.

In 1991, 13 state humanities councils and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, conducted a survey of 100 small cultural institutions. This 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 the Smithsonian that eventually developed into Museum on Main Street. 

The survey concluded that:

 

America’s small-town residents are often geographically,  economically, and culturally isolated

Museums, libraries located in rural areas serve as community centers

Because of their central community roles,  small museums  are well positioned to offer public programs

Rural museums have limited budgets and insufficient staff

Relying on the results of the survey, Smithsonian designers developed a new exhibit format that earned a Presidential Design Award for Excellence--not only because it delivered high-quality content in a compact package, but also because it was  tailored so precisely to the specific needs of resource-poor museums.

The first Museum on Main Street exhibition, Produce for Victory, launched in September 1994. Since then, we have developed a series of exhibitions that generate high levels of community creativity and engagement. In 2018, Museum on Main Street launched its 11th exhibition specifically developed for small-town America, Crossroads: Change in Rural America.

Since 1994, MoMS exhibitions have been shown nearly 1,600 times in 49 states and 1 territory

Chances are, MoMS has been near you. Check out the places we visited and the great organizations that partnered with us over the years!

Alabama
Exhibition Title
Barn Again
Barn Again
Barn Again
Barn Again
Yesterday's Tomorrows
Yesterday's Tomorrows
Yesterday's Tomorrows
Yesterday's Tomorrows
Yesterday's Tomorrows
Yesterday's Tomorrows
Key Ingredients
Key Ingredients
Key Ingredients
Key Ingredients
Key Ingredients
Key Ingredients
Between Fences
Between Fences
Between Fences
Between Fences
Between Fences
Between Fences
Journey Stories (2011 Alabama)
Journey Stories (2011 Alabama)
Journey Stories (2011 Alabama)
Journey Stories (2011 Alabama)
Journey Stories (2011 Alabama)
Journey Stories (2011 Alabama)
The Way We Worked - MoMS (2013 Alabama)
The Way We Worked - MoMS (2013 Alabama)
The Way We Worked - MoMS (2013 Alabama)
The Way We Worked - MoMS (2013 Alabama)
The Way We Worked - MoMS (2013 Alabama)
The Way We Worked - MoMS (2013 Alabama)
The Way We Worked - MoMS 2014 (Alabama) - extension
The Way We Worked - MoMS 2014 (Alabama) - extension
The Way We Worked - MoMS 2014 (Alabama) - extension
The Way We Worked - MoMS 2014 (Alabama) - extension
The Way We Worked - MoMS 2014 (Alabama) - extension
The Way We Worked - MoMS 2014 (Alabama) - extension
Hometown Teams 2016 (Alabama)
Hometown Teams 2016 (Alabama)
Hometown Teams 2016 (Alabama)
Hometown Teams 2016 (Alabama)
Hometown Teams 2016 (Alabama)
Hometown Teams 2016 (Alabama)
Water/Ways (2017 Alabama)
Water/Ways (2017 Alabama)
Water/Ways (2017 Alabama)
Water/Ways (2017 Alabama)
Water/Ways (2017 Alabama)
Water/Ways (2017 Alabama)
New Harmonies
New Harmonies
New Harmonies
New Harmonies
New Harmonies
New Harmonies
Connecticut
Barn Again Windsor Historical Society Windsor
Barn Again Lebanon Historical Society Lebanon
Barn Again Kent Historical Society Kent
The Way We Worked - MoMS (2013 Connecticut) New Haven Free Public Library New Haven
The Way We Worked - MoMS (2013 Connecticut) Northwest Connecticut Association for the Arts, Inc. Torrington
The Way We Worked - MoMS (2013 Connecticut) Hartford Public Library Hartford
The Way We Worked - MoMS (2013 Connecticut) Mattatuck Museum Arts and History Center Waterbury
The Way We Worked - MoMS (2013 Connecticut) Nathan Hale Homestead Coventry
The Way We Worked - MoMS (2013 Connecticut) Stamford Museum and Nature Center Stamford
The Way We Worked - MoMS (2013 Connecticut) Groton Public Library Groton