NEH On the Road is a program that extends the life of exhibits already funded by the Endowment by reducing them in size and circulating them among smaller community museums, libraries, and other non-profit venues. Participants must complete a grant application and contribute towards the costs. This program allows residents of areas not normally served by museums to enjoy high-quality artifact-based museum exhibits and community programming. Since 2005, there have been 150 bookings serving 290,000 people. A few examples are listed below.
Asian Games: The Art of Contest
Asian Games showcases the Asian origins of many games now popular in the United States, such as chess, backgammon, pachisi (Parcheesi), card games, and polo. Featured games are classified according to four categories: chance; strategy; memory and matching; and power and dexterity. The exhibit also explores themes such as gender and class. Asian Games has now finished its tour around the country and has been retired.
"The exhibit was visually very appealing and attractive (large format, colorful, intriguing images), causing many people to actively explore the exhibit - something of importance in the library where viewers may not always be coming in with the specific intention of viewing an exhibit. The text was also well-researched, easy to read and provided a great context for the exhibit, making the educational content enjoyable and easy to access. And, the objects/games also captured many peoples’ attention. We had teens and others playing at the game tables almost every day, especially in the afternoon." —Teton County Library, Jackson, WY
The Bison: American Icon
The Bison: American Icon introduces viewers to the iconic animal of the American West. A staple of the lives of Plains Indians, the bison (or buffalo) was hunted nearly to extinction around the turn of the twentieth century. Fortunately, some of the hunters who contributed to the species’ decline, such as “Buffalo Bill” Cody and Teddy Roosevelt, recognized the animal’s value and embarked on conservation efforts. These stories and more are presented in The Bison.
¡Carnaval! chronicles the history of this popular festival, also commonly known as Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday. Originally celebrating the beginning of Lent in the Roman Catholic tradition of Italy, Spain, and France, Carnaval has spread throughout Europe and the Americas and incorporates a wide variety of cultural traditions and faiths. ¡Carnaval! features costumes, music, folk art, and other artifacts from Laza, Spain; Venice, Italy; Basil, Switzerland; Recife and Olinda, Brazil; Tlaxcala, Mexico; Oruro, Bolivia; Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago; and New Orleans.
“A Katrina survivor burst into tears . . . as she recalled the Katrina experience and rejoiced at the persistence of the ‘Indian’ community to mask on Mardi Gras day. This project provided us an opportunity to forge new relationships and experience other cultures, especially Hispanic.” — Griot Museum of Black History, St. Louis, MO
Farm Life: A Century of Change for Farm Families and Their Neighbors
Farm Life introduces visitors to life on a Wisconsin farm in the 1950s. The exhibit focuses on sociological aspects of family life in the community. As the proportion of farmers in the U.S. population decreases, Farm Life helps connect visitors to a disappearing way of life that nonetheless remains enshrined in American culture.
“The Farm Life Exhibit appealed to a wider range of people than other exhibits that have been displayed at the Old Independence Regional Museum. This exhibit brought in a large number of visitors of all ages. Because the region is so rural, farm life is a tradition shared by almost everyone. Through the Farm Life Exhibit, the museum reached families that might not have come to the Museum. As a result a large number of visitors to this exhibit came back for the Christmas Program.” —Old Independence Regional Museum, Batesville, AR
Going Places describes an earlier way of life—the era before the introduction of the automobile. Carriages, wagons, and other vehicles drawn by horse, donkey, mule, pony, and even camel served as a means of transportation and were crucial in agriculture, military operations, firefighting, and many other aspects of life. Going Places features a variety of objects associated with the use of carriages, from sleigh bells to blacksmithing equipment, and even a full-sized pony surrey (four-wheeled light carriage). The exhibit also addresses themes of place and class.
“This exhibition was terrific - not only was it well conceived and constructed, but it was rich in content. The scope and quality of the objects and information was impressive. It had a good balance of3-D artifacts, text and interactive components which made it an excellent backdrop for hands-on lessons.
“The exhibition also inspired hands-on school tours, a film series and a family fun day with a variety of activities including horse drawn carriage rides from the Museum to one of our nearby historic homes.” —Museum of the Gulf Coast, Port Arthur, TX
Grass Roots: African Origins of an American Art
Grass Roots presents the art of basket-weaving in the low country of South Carolina and Georgia. Tracing its roots through African slaves from Senegal to South Africa, this traditional craft has been elevated to an art form, as well as a major tourist attraction in the region. Grass Roots also examines the history of the domestication of rice, and later other grasses, in Africa, in the Trans-atlantic slave trade and the rice plantations of South Carolina, and into the present day.
“Even though Fellows Riverside Gardens is located in an inner city setting, it is difficult to draw significant participation from the local community, particularly the African- American community. Grass Roots brought out increased numbers of African-American visitors for both the exhibit and lectures, enabling us to make information available for upcoming programs of interest. At the public lectures, specifically among African- Americans, we often heard ‘Wow’ - a true feeling of connection to their culture.” —Fellows Riverside Gardens, Youngstown, OH
Heroes of the Sky: Adventures in Early Flight, 1903-1939
Heroes of the Sky connects the Wright Brothers, Henry Ford, Jimmy Doolittle, Bessy Coleman, and Admiral Richard Byrd in the birth of flight. The technology was originally seen as a curiosity, but explorers, businessmen, and inventors recognized its potential and developed a multi-million (later multi-billion) dollar industry. Airplanes quickly captured the public imagination, and the artifacts presented in Heroes of the Sky include early plane tickets, adventure books, and model airplanes. The exhibit has now finished its national tour and has been retired.
Lee and Grant
Lee and Grant tells the stories of Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant, both heroes of the Civil War, but on opposite sides. Meeting at West Point, the men would be life-long colleagues, and their reputations have fluctuated in relation to each other throughout the last 150 years. The Virginia Historical Society developed this exhibit to commemorate Lee’s 200th birthday, and uses letters, photographs, paintings, pamphlets, and other materials to provide insight into both men’s lives.
Our Lives, Our Stories: America’s Greatest Generation
Our Lives, Our Stories is about the generation that fought World War II and left an indelible legacy, both through their achievements and their progeny, famously known as the “Baby Boom.” Books, photos, and newsreels tell the story of the people on the front lines and the home front—the ordinary men and women who contributed to the success of the war effort. Our Lives, Our Stories continues this journey after the end of WWII and through the boom years that followed.
Wrapped in Pride: Ghanaian Kente and African-American Identity
Wrapped in Pride is about more than a fabric; kente has become a cultural icon. Originating with the Asante and Ewe peoples of Kenya and Togo, this colorful textile has been prized by African royalty and by well-known figures of the African-American community, including W.E.B. du Bois and Mohammed Ali. Photographs and objects, such as looms, used in the production of kente cloth tell the story of this symbol of power and faith in Wrapped in Pride.
“We were concerned at first that our patrons would not relate to the theme or that it would not ‘hit home’ for them. This was especially the case as our demographics are mainly northern European descent. We were continually proven wrong when we were consistently approached by individuals with their own story to share. We had many guests who had been to the area, either decades ago or more recently.” —Brigham City Museum, Brigham City, UT