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Our History

Museum on Main Street exhibitions and resources have traveled to more than 1600 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 each state 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!

Museum on Main Street Participating States, 1994-2019
Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California
Colorado Connecticut Delaware Florida Georgia
Guam Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana
Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine
Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi
Missouri Montana Nebraska New Hampshire New Jersey
New Mexico New York Nevada North Carolina North Dakota
Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island
South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah
Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin
Wyoming        

 

Connecticut

State Partner: Connecticut Humanities

Barn Again! Celebrating an American Icon

  • Windsor Historical Society, Windsor
  • Lebanon Historical Society, Lebanon,
  • Kent Historical Society, Kent


 

The Way We Worked

  • New Haven Free Public Library, New Haven
  • Northwest Connecticut Association for the Arts, Torrington
  • Hartford Public Library, Hartford
  • Mattatuck Museum Arts and History Center, Waterbury
  • Nathan Hale Homestead, Coventry
  • Stamford Museum and Nature Center, Stamford
  • Groton Public Library, Groton

 

Delaware

State Partner: Delaware Humanities

Barn Again! Celebrating an American Icon

                Dover, Georgetown, Wilmington

Between Fences

                Seaford, Yorklyn, Delaware City, Milton

The Way We Worked

                Yorklyn, Bethel, Dover Air Force Base

Florida

State Partner: Florida Humanities Council

Crossroads: Change in Rural America

Cedar Key, Callahan, Live Oak, Bartow, Havana, DeFuniak Springs

Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America

Dade City, Dunedin, Fort Myers, Fernandina Beach, Chipley, New port Richey, Miami, Leesburg, Tampa, Brooksville, Milton

Journey Stories

Plant City, Blountstown, DeBary, Clewiston, Sebring, Dunedin, Tarpon Springs,
Fernandina Beach, Iverness, Indiantown, Bartow, Monticello

Water/Ways

                Palatka, High Springs, Miami Springs, Sanibel, Okeechobee, Tampa

The Way We Worked

Cedar Key, Palm Harbor, Casselberry, New Smyrna Beach, Marco Island, Belle Glade, Mt. Dora, Pinecrest, Mulberry, Fernandina Beach, Apalachicola, Molino, Dade City, Wilton Manors, Enterprise, Bartow, Lake Wales, Tarpon Springs

Yesterday’s Tomorrows: Past Visions of the American Future

                Inverness, Lake Mary, Monticello, Arcadia, Kissimmee, Madison, Blountstown

Georgia

State Partner: Georgia Humanities

Barn Again! Celebrating an American Icon

                Gainesville, Thomasville, Cartersville, LaGrange

Crossroads: Change in Rural America

Thomaston, McRae-Helena, Monticello, Cuthbert, Summerville, Blue Ridge

Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America

Swainsboro, Fort Oglethorpe, Jonesboro, Nashville, Kingsland, Carrollton, Jefferson, Fort Valley, Moultrie, Forsyth, Cartersville, Monroe

Key Ingredients: America by Food

Buchanan, Vienna, LaFayette, Ellijay, Hapeville, Thomson, Dahlonega, Kingsland, Tifton, Vidalia, Waynesboro, Flovilla

New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music

Calhoun, Madison, Townsend, Perry, Moultrie, Toccoa, Bremen, Thomson, Nashville, Americus, Waycross, LaGrange

Produce for Victory: Posters on the American Home Front, 1941-1945

                Gainesville, Cordele, Dublin, Waycross, Moreland

Yesterday’s Tomorrows: Past Visions of the American Future

                Sandersville, Nahunta, Jessup, Thomasville, Cedartown, Carrollton, Blue Ridge, Monroe

Guam

State Partner: Humanities Guahan

Between Fences

                Hagatna, Dededo, Mangilao

Journey Stories

                Hagatna, Mangilao

Key Ingredients: America by Food

                Tumon, Mangilao, Hagatna

New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music

                Hagatna, Mangilao, Tumon, Inarajan

Water/Ways

                Hagatna

Hawaii

State Partner: Hawaii Council for the Humanities

Key Ingredients: America by Food

                Honolulu, Kapolei, Hilo, Kahului

Produce for Victory: Posters on the American Home Front, 1941-1945

                Honolulu, Kapolei, Kailua, Kane’ohe Bay, Wailuku, Lihu’e, Hilo